17th November, 2014
As the Governor’s Cup Lagos Invitational Tennis Championship kicks off at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan, Lagos today, all eyes will be on the N1.5m jackpot for the Singles Winner.
In fact, most Nigerian players participating believe this is their chance to win the elusive tournament since it became an ITF-certified tourney.
To make matters easier for them, P.M.NEWS Sport confirmed from reliable sources that some of the top players invited from other parts of the country will not be available for the tournament.
This is seen as yet a very good opportunity for the local players to excel at the tournament which will, despite the absence of the top pros, remain as competitive as ever.
The South African, Egyptian and Tunisian players, who have been the African dominant forces of the championship in the past, have been ruled out because of other engagements scheduled for the same period.
According to Isa Seidu, Tournament Umpire, “the players who are not coming had initially confirmed their participation. But they had to stay back due to some other engagements.
“However, we are sure of having the draws complete because despite their absence, some other top players from Benin Republic, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Uganda have arrived the country.”
Although Nigeria’s Davis Cup team lost to Zimbabwe, the coach, Benson Ishicheli, disclosed that the players were within a touching distance of displacing the much-fancied Zimbabweans.
Injury forced the Nigerians to back out of that competition. But they are ready to prove a point and emerge victorious come 22 November when the final matches will hold.
Henry Atseye, who was one of the players in the Davis Cup team, played a warm up tournament in Abuja a few weeks back and believes that his shoulder injuries are behind him.
The former CBN Open winner, who was Nigeria’s best player at the 2012 edition of the championship added that, “I am ready for the tournament. I’ll give it my all and really believe that everything is possible.”
With many Nigerian players participating mainly for the prize money, the motivation might as well shift if they are aware that their more experienced foreign counterparts would be absent.
This is yet the best opportunity for the players to cash in on the Etisalat Nigeria/ FCMB sponsored championships, as they prepare for other tournaments as the year runs out.