When the 27th edition of the Dala Hard Court Championship serves off this weekend in Kano, northern Nigeria, one thing that would be on Nigerian players’ minds is pride. More than the prize money for grabs at the annual tourney.
After stumbling performances at the recently concluded Governor’s Cup Lagos Championship, the tourney presents an early opportunity for Nigerian players to salvage their pride as great tennis players.
Losing finalist of last year’s edition of the tournament, Shehu Lawal, has said that he would do all he can to come out tops in this year’s tournament.
Lawal, who was one of the first players to register for the tourney, maintained that he is more accustomed to the northern region than the south, expects to use the weather to his advantage.
“I was born in Kano so it is a more familiar terrain for me and more favourable if you ask me. I lost to Babalola in last year’s final but I will do all I can to redeem my image when the championship starts this weekend” the former Davis Cup player averred.
Another player who hopes to go a step better than he did last year is Sanni Adamu.
Adamu believes that his quarter final exit to Henry Atseye will spur him to work harder this time around for him to win the tournament.
According to Nigeria’s highest placed player on the International Tennis Federation, ITF ranking; “Last year’s loss to Atseye was not pleasant to me but I am presently training hard in Abuja to ensure that I play in the final this time so that I can bounce back from the disappointment of not doing well at the Governor’s Cup”.
Atseye, who was one of the players who fell short of expectation at this year’s Governor’s Cup due to a niggling shoulder injury, has also vowed to use the tourney to re announce his presence.
Atseye, who was outplayed by a less fancied player at the Governor’s Cup, believes he can re-enact the form that made him a toast of Nigerian tennis enthusiasts.
“The shoulder injury that I sustained last year has really troubled me and affected my performances over the last one year.
“I was disappointed that I couldn’t play very well early this year but I have been working on the shoulder ever since the championship ended.
“So, I will play the Dala tourney to ascertain my fitness level and ensure that I don’t just participate, but I want to play very well and get to a respectable level before any form of exit if there would be any at all” Atseye explained.
The Dala tourney is played on a hard court and will begin with the qualifiers slugging it out on the 15 and 16 November to determine players that will feature in the main draws which serves off on Monday, 18 November in the ancient city of Kano.