Mary-Love, A Star In The Making

•RETURN…Mary-Love Edwards returns a serve to an opponent at the just concluded CBN Open Junior Championship at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan

•RETURN: Mary-Love Edwards returns a serve to an opponent at a tennis competition

Talk about agility, accuracy, speed, focus, determination and you won’t be far from describing Nigeria’s latest discovery in the racquet game, Mary-Love Edwards.

The young prodigy who won the U-12 category of the just concluded Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Junior Tennis Open, showed her older counterparts how the game ought to be played as she breezed past her opponents with consecutive 9-0 wins on her way to the final.

With her head held high in a show of sheer determination from a mild heart with great passion for tennis, 8-year old Mary-Love defeated her 12-year old opponent, Bose Are 6-2 in the final to emerge winner in her category.

An elated Mary-Love described the victory as something she had always hoped for as she never expected to lose to any of her opponents.

“I’m very delighted to have won the tournament not because I thought that I won’t win, but because of the joy of winning and the fact that I always want to win.

“I wasn’t scared of my opponents because my nemesis, Oyindamola Sikiru, did not play in this tournament, so I knew I was going to win. I was always positive about winning and I guess that was why I won” she said.

•RETURN: Mary-Love Edwards returns a serve to an opponent at the just concluded CBN Open Junior Championship at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan
•RETURN: Mary-Love Edwards returns a serve to an opponent at the just concluded CBN Open Junior Championship at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan

Despite her age, Mary-Love already has the heart of a giant and going by the way she dispatched her opponents, she’s already a force to reckon with. This will however not stop her from aiming higher as she wants to be a top professional just like her role Model, Serena Williams.

She said: “My aim is to become a top professional player like my role model, Serena Williams and I believe that with the way I’m playing, I’ll get there someday. My prayer is that I will get sponsors to attend academies outside the country.”

The brain behind Mary-Love’s show of zeal, determination and greatness in tennis is her coach, Kayode Savage.

The coach told Tennis Special that he was not surprised what with the quality of play of his girl at the CBN tournament as Mary-Love underwent series of training before the national competition played at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan, Lagos.

“Her victory did not come as a surprise to me, especially when she defeated her opponents 9-0 on her way to the final. She had been undergoing series of trainings for the past three years. I’d be disappointed if she had not done well.

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“My dream is to see her being encouraged to hit the stardom in the game. We have a long-term programme for her to become the top professional player that she wants to be, but not without corporate sponsors to help actualise the dream,” the coach stated.

For every tennis player, there’s an exceptional strong point which often gives such a player over opponents and Mary-Love is no exception.

Savage made it clear that Mary-Love’s weapon of mass destruction is her spirit of determination.

“Sheer determination, that’s it. She’s always determined to win even during training sessions and I’ve always told her to enjoy herself whenever she plays.

“She follows instructions to the latter and doesn’t get distracted. I know everybody will want to identify with her now that she’s a star but what she really needs more than any other thing now is sponsorship,” Savage said.

The parental support she has in her father is another source of inspiration to Mary-Love as her dad, Mr. Edwards always took her to the stadium for training.

Mr. Edwards was proud to tell Tennis Special that nothing can stop his daughter from achieving her heart desire in the game. He called on corporate bodies to come to the aid of aspiring tennis players in the country to achieve their aims.

“I’m happy that Mary won today. This was not a surprise to me because I know that she had training well for this competition.

“I’m looking to seeing my girl attending a tennis academy either in Spain, US or wherever she goes to nurture her there talent,” he said.

—Damilare Okunola