4th June, 2013
Nigeria’s number two female tennis player, Blessing Samuel, in this interview with DAMILARE OKUNOLA, explained how her father taught her to play tennis.
How are you been faring since you started playing tennis?
It has been great and wonderful since I started playing tennis at the tender age of six in Katsina State. It has really been fantastic playing tennis all along.
What actually brought you to tennis?
My dad has been my coach and he was the one who taught me how to play tennis. He’s one of the officials of the sport in the country so you can expect that he isn’t a rookie in the game.
Since you started playing, which championships have you participated in?
I’ve played a lot of tournaments which I can’t remember. I played in competitions such as Dala Tourney, Port-Harcourt Open, Lord Rumens, CBN Open and a couple of others.
Which of these tournaments did you win?
As a junior player, I won all the championships that I participated in from 2000 to 2004. Then in the senior category, I did quite well but as in the juniors. I won the Dala Tourney back to back in 2009 and 2010.
What is the biggest amount you have made from playing tennis?
When I was winning all those junior championships, I only got rackets, canvas and balls for my efforts, but I can’t really remember the amount I made from winning some senior championships.
What do you think is wrong with tennis in the country?
I think the problem lies with the players and then the Nigeria Tennis Federation as well. You can imagine how a great country like Nigeria could be playing two tournaments in a year. When there aren’t tournaments, players don’t train so we need many tournaments so that the players will be active at all time.
Your major challenges since you started playing?
Sponsorship has been my biggest challenge. I’ve tried to get at least one but none is forthcoming.
Where do you see Nigerian tennis in the nearest future?
The young ones are coming up these days so, I see a future for the sport in Nigeria. They should be properly monitored and groomed to get the best out of them.
Who’s your favourite tennis player?
Serena Williams has always been my favourite because she’s black like me. Then, I like myself and Sunday Emmanuel, our former number one player but he’s no longer in the country.
What’s your future ambition?
If I get sponsors, I’ll like to play tennis outside the country because that’s where tennis is a big business. I’ve only represented the country in international tournaments, but no opportunity to abroad to boost my ranking.