Lagos – Some players who participated at the 9th Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Junior Tennis Championship are craving for elevation to the senior category.
No fewer than 170 of such junior players in both male and female categories participated in the championships, which, was held at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan from April 20 to April 25.
The competition, as always was essentially targeted at exposing the raw talents into quality players that could in future become top stars.
The competitions featured boys and girls U-8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and U-18 categories from across the country. The Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF) sanctioned the competition that had players drawn mainly from schools.
Some of the youthful players, particularly those that had taken part in previous editions of the championship drew loud cheers from the appreciation spectators for their superlative performances.
At the end of the first round, 16 players qualified to play in a round-robbin format. Eventually, three outstanding players emerged as tops in the championships.
These are, Mary-love Edwards, 14, Angel Maclord, 16 and Martins Agamu, 18.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent who covered the competition, reports that the three seeded junior players made no pretences about their desire to move on to the senior circuit scheduled to hold at a-yet-to be announced dates in May.
The rising star, Edwards had earned wild a card to play in the seniors in the 2014 NNPC championship and had shown class then, having demolished some senior players.
At the just concluded event, she displayed artistry with her fore hand strokes, which gave her victory over her pair in the U-14 category.
“I have my eyes set on the senior championship, which I believe will enable me to enroll in major international tennis circuit,” Edwards said.
Maclord, who was champion in the girls’ U-16, also said she had come a long way in the game, having been champion in the category three times previously.
“I can no longer wait any more to move into the senior circuit. I have been itching to be part of the senior circuit. The level will pave way for me to aspire to the international circuit that will bring me into limelight’’.
Another player, Agamu, who has his eyes on the senior competitions, was the winner of the boys U-18 champion. He said he was now ripe for senior category.
“I am ripe for seniors, I have paid my dues in the game; it is now time for the game to reward me,” the three-time junior CBN champion said.
Meanwhile, some of the coaches at the event bitterly complained about the format adopted for the competition. Coach Adai Baje, who led the Kogi team said the championship’s round-robin format was fraught with confusion.
“In some groups, a player plays just three games, wins one and loses two and still emerge to continue in the next round from the group, while in some groups the case was different,” he said.
Eddy Edwards, father of Mary-love said that, the organisers could have done better with rules and regulation governing the competition clearly spelt out before the commencement of the event.
According to him, the players could have performed better, if they are aware of the rules ahead of the start of the competition, in order to know when to progress to the next level.
Shehu Lawal, a professional player also berated organisers for failing to make provision for a standby medical team.
He noted that tennis; just like any other sport require the attention of medical officials to be on ground. “It is risky exposing young players without medical personnel during a competition.
“I hope the organisers will make the provision of medical support, a top priority when planning ahead of next edition,’’ Lawal said.
No fewer than 40 were debutants at the championships, which would form the nucleus of future top players.
There is no doubt that the championship have become the event for “nurturing of future stars’’ and it is hoped that CBN will continue to invest in the vital area for sustained breeding of the players.
Duro Ikhazuagbe, a member of NTF, who represented the president of the federation, Sani Ndanusa at the event said the federation was happy at what the CBN has been doing with the juniors.
“We are glad that they have used the event to throw up budding talents that will be the future of Nigerian tennis”. (NAN)