Players Clamour For Wheelchair Tourneys


Buoyed by the successful staging of the Ochei Wheelchair Basketball Championship, Nigerian wheelchair tennis players have called on the authorities and Nigerians to give them a tournament of their own like their counterparts in basketball.

Some of the tennis players who also participated in the slam and dunk championship told  P.M.NEWS Tennis Special that tennis, being one of Nigeria’s major sports, should  enjoy such sponsorship and patronage.

While expressing his pains at not being able to participate in any meaningful tourney in Nigeria, the country’s number one wheelchair tennis player, Wasiu Yusuf, said that it is appalling that there is no major wheelchair tennis championship in Nigeria today.

“It’s very painful that we’ve not been able to get anybody to sponsor tournaments for wheelchair tennis in this country. You can see what the players have benefited at the recently concluded Ochei championship. It is unfortunate that wheelchair tennis is treated badly,” he said.

“We went to Kenya and qualified Nigeria for the World Team Cup. The world championship is coming up in May and as I speak, there is no concrete plans to prepare the players for the competition. For how long will we continue like this?,” the African champion queried.

Another player, Alex Adewale, expressed bitterness with the way the authorities is handling wheelchair tennis in the country. Adewale placed the fault on the federation. He said that the Ochei tourney was sponsored by a friend of the president of Nigeria Basketball Federation, NBBF.  He wants the same gesture extends to tennis.

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Adewale also wants the inclusion of wheelchair tennis to the sports of the National Sports Festival. “I don’t really know if our administrators want progress for this sport. I think there is need for wheelchair tennis be included as one of the games for the sports festival to ease development and popularity of the sport.

Reacting to the complains of the players, President of the NTF, Sani Ndanusa disclosed Senator Oluremi Tinubu has been sponsoring New Era Wheelchair Tennis Championship, but failure to get the tournament staged last year might have responsible for the outcry of the players.

Ndanusa also hinted that plans are underway to include wheelchair tennis in the next sports festival in Calabar and the All Africa Games, adding that the federation is out to give the sport more prominence in the coming years.

“Let me inform you that wheelchair tennis will feature at the next sports festival in Calabar. The federation is also working very hard to get the sport into the All Africa Games,” said Ndanusa, who is also the President of Nigeria Olympic Committee, NOC and the Vice President of Confederation of Africa Tennis, CAT.

—Damilare Okunola