With all the preparations made by the Nigerian contingent in anticipation of a very positive outing at the just concluded Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis Championship, there was little or nothing to write home about their performance.
Rather, it was the foreigners who led the pace once again and showed just how much the country still needs to do to meet up with the world’s top players.
Sixteen year old Borna Coric from Croatia eliminated doubts about having a teenager win the competition for the first time as he oozed with class throughout the tournament.
“It’s my first time in Nigeria and the competition is good with so many top players from all over the world” the world’s number one junior player explained.
Coric, who won the first leg of the Championship, also added, “I enjoyed the competition and with the points I got here, my ranking has improved. I will come back next year because I like it out here”.
The top Nigerian stars at the International Tennis Federation, ITF-sanctioned pro-circuit, may have missed out on the organisers’ largesse-sending two players who perform well to an African ATP series before the year ends.
The farthest a Nigerian player went during the annual event was the second round where the likes of Shehu Lawal, Christian Paul, Sanni Adamu faltered.
Nigeria’s best performer this year, Clifford Enosoregbe, put up a good fight in his second round tie against number two seed, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan from India before losing 4-6,5-7.
A disappointed Enosoregbe lamented his performance against the top seed and maintained that the country is not helping the players.
He explained that if he could play against such a top player like that without any prior tournament, his performance would have been much better if he had played more ITF Futures.
“I’m not happy at all with the fact that I lost. You all saw that I put in my best against a player in the top 300 in the world and would have defeated him but for some mistakes that I made.
“This country is not encouraging tennis at all, if I had played tournaments-even if it is local- regularly, I would have fared better” the 2013 CBN Open Finalist said after the match.
In the female category, no Nigerian player moved anywhere near the second round as they all faltered in the first round woefully.
All the Nigerian ladies who played in the main draws, were given wild cards and none of them justified their inclusion.
Ironically, it was unseeded Gioia Barbieri from Italy whole stole the show in a competition which was played by Slovenia’s Majeric Tadeja, ranked 120 in the world.
Barbieri knocked out Majeric before seeing off former winner, Nina Bratchikova from Russia, 3-6,6-3,3-0(rtd) to win the second leg of the Championship.
The next stop for the Nigerian players is the Dala Hard Court tourney in Kano next month after which they are expected to play the Kwara Open before the year runs out.
But the players are still in doubt about their participation in a tourney that will help redeem their image in the country.
“I don’t know if I’ll be in Kano yet because I’m not sure of transport fare to and from the North. I’m not happy with my performance at the Governor’s Cup but I can’t blame it on anybody since no one is ready to sponsor us” a player said, while pleading anonymity.