The 12-year-old from the Victoria Garden City Club, Lekki, Lagos defeated 10 Americans to claim the Baco Junior Tournament in July before rounding off on a memorable note with the Brant Lake Camp tournament title in New York later in the same month to bag a double-double having attained same feat last year.
“The two tournaments were very tough than those of last year but the tough training my dad puts me through as well as the experience I got by playing for Nigeria (at the ITF/CAT Championship) early this year helped me to win” he said, on arrival at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos last weekend.
Gabriel’s dad, Richard who is also his coach, said Gabriel was the main target by all the other opponents following his surprise win of the titles last year.
“They were prepared for him. They knew he is very good and always want to give their best against him.” Richard credited the Brant Lake Camp for fine-tuning his son’s game and also thanked the VGC Club for supporting the training.
He also said Gabriel got commendations from various coaches across America and Europe who came for the tournaments. He defeated Alex Weinberg of the US in both finals of the tournaments held in New York.
Nigeria Tennis Federation President, Dayo Ifedoju received Gabriel in Lagos and said the youngster and some other talents have raised the hope of Nigeria producing future stars in tennis reiterating the federation’s focus on talent development.
Akindoju stated, “Gabriel and a host of other promising talents will form the foundation of our focus to develop tennis from the grassroots. Kids as young as six years old would be assessed through the years and their evaluation would be followed with recommendations to the ITF for scholarship at the High Performance Centre in order to bring out the best in their talents.”