Abuja – Ikani Igabi, Tournament Director of the Tombim Abuja Tennis Open, on Thursday said the tournament’s main purpose was to create an opportunity for home-based players to earn vital ATP points.
Igabi told newsmen at a briefing in Abuja to usher in the tournament that the event was therefore a great opportunity for upcoming tennis players.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the male-only tournament, which is now in its second edition, is scheduled for Saturday to April 30.
It is an ATP-ranked tournament, with 35 points at stake, and it will be closely followed by the Dayak Tennis Championship which holds from April 30 to May 14.
“The sponsor, Edmond Ajoge who is the CEO of Tombim Services Limited, is well aware of the difficulties and challenges faced by Nigerian players travelling around the world trying to collect ATP points.
“When the competition started last year, the primary motive was to help Nigerian players gather vital ATP points, and five Nigerian players became internationally ranked in one day.
“One of them, Moses Michael, got to the quarter-finals of the singles in the first week and paired Duncan Mugabe of Uganda to reach the semi-finals of the doubles in the second week.
“So, we are pleased to say that the primary motive of the competition was very well achieved last year,’’ Igabi said.
He however said the tournament was not going to be just for home-based players but also for upcoming players across the world to play in Nigeria.
The Tournament Director also said the event’s organisers would therefore be using the competition to showcase Nigeria in a good light.
“We want to use it to show we are honest, hardworking, friendly and peace-loving people, who are very hospitable to foreigners.
“Also, it is the firm belief of the organisers that an event of this nature will contribute positively to building the structure of Nigerian tennis and image of Nigeria internationally.
The tennis official added that, above all reasons, the organisers were interested in helping Nigeria catch up with their Egyptian counterparts who organise 40 ITF Futures each year.
“We are not interested in organising a one-off competition. Our target is to catch up with Egpyt who organises 40 ITF Futures each year.
“We are also anxious to attract the private sector to invest in sports in Nigeria.
“We have learnt from our experience in organising this competition that the key to having regular competitions is to cut down the excessive fanfare associated with competitions and stick to the bare essentials.
“The thing is for the budget for competitions to be manageable and look more attractive to private sectors.
“Also, this will encourage Nigerian to volunteer their time and resources in organising events like these,’’ he urged.