Not less than six players will represent Nigeria at the April African Junior Tennis championship to be held in Morocco. At the end of the tournament which was last week concluded in Lome, Togo, six Nigerian starlets booked their places in the African tourney.
The April event was earlier slated for Egypt but tennis world governing body, ITF shifted it to another North African country, Morocco owing to the crisis in Egypt.
Nigeria however, failed to successfully defend the title it won in Ghana last year but grabbed slots for the young stars to improve and develop in the continental scene. Joseph Imeh and Emmanuel Idoko qualified in the boys 16 and under category while Serah Adegoke made it in the girls’ category. Michael Michael and Zainab Oladimeji scaled through in the boys 14 and girls categories respectively.
Coach of the Nigerian team Ubale Mohammed said the most important thing was the qualification of the six to the big youth tourney. “We ended up with 4 gold, 2 silver and 1bronze and placing 2nd behind Ghana. Cameroon came 3rd and Cote d’Ivoire placed 4th.
I am not disappointed that we came runners up but happy because the most important thing was to qualify for the big one in Morocco which is good for our tennis development.
Already we have two boys and a girl in the 16 and under category and a boy and a girl in the 14 and under. Another good news is that we have been given a wild card to make it seven players to compete in Morocco.
The ITF has given Sylvester Emmanuel a wild card to play in the tournament because of his exceptional talent and ITF ranking. The way we are going, Nigeria may end up with eight players because Umaru Balami is almost there due also to his ITF ranking in 18 and under.”
On plans to do well at the April meet, the coach said the technical crew’s plan was to use the forthcoming tournaments in Nigeria to as preparations for the boys and girls before going into close camping for the junior continental meet. “Our plan is to use two upcoming tournaments as part of our preparations and all the invited players will participate in them.
There is the academicals in Ekiti and Chevron Masters in Lagos. These two will form part of our preparations after which we shall immediately go into camping to prepare further for the Morocco event.” He concluded.