The 2015 Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis Championship will kickoff from Saturday, 5 December, 2015 at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club (LLTC), Onikan, Lagos with Nigeria’s flag bearers sure to participate yet again.
Apart from being given the same treatment as their foreign counterparts, the Nigerian stars will have the opportunity to rub minds with their more advanced and experienced colleagues, but how far does this translate?
|Bona Coric won the Governor’s Cup in Lagos and went on to beat world’s best stars years after, when will our players attan this feat?|
There have been yearnings for Nigeria to produce a worthy winner of the tournament- one of the reasons for which it has been consistently held in the country for the past 15 years- but none of them has been able to live up to billing.
Last year, Moses Michael, who was almost like a cat with nine lives, shone brilliantly as he defeated his Ugandan counterpart, Duncan Mugabe, in an epic final in Lagos, but there were arguments that he could only achieve this feat because the tournament was not its usual self last year.
|Moses Michael beat Duncan Mugabe last year to win the tennis invitational. Can he repeat the feat this year?|
The organisers decided to hold an invitational tournament as the ITF was scared of the brief presence of dreaded Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the country, and Nigeria’s Moses did the country proud by winning it for then governor, Babatunde Fashola, who was also in his last tenure as the leader of Lagos state.
This year, the tournament returns with its ITF-ranking status and will be keenly contested by player from over 20 countries of the world who have already signed in.
Is this now the year that a Nigerian player will finally nip it in the bud?
Fast-rising youngster, Moses, on whose tiny shoulders Nigerians’ hopes are resting, has already set a quarter-final target for himself, while Henry Atseye, one of Nigeria’s top players, also believes that we are yet to get to the level or stage of winning the championship.
However, in an interview with the president of the Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF), Engr. Sani Ndanusa, he told the Nigerian stars that they have no excuse not to perform well during the two-week tournament in Lagos.
|Engr. Sani Ndanusa, president of the Nigeria Tennis Federation believes that the players can make it|
His words stem from the fact that the newly-introduced NCC Tennis Leagus would have increased the players’ game, mental toughness and match fitness.
He therefore believes that the players have the right set up to win the tournament this year.
In his opinion, one of the most powerful tennis stakeholders in the country, Mr Godwin Kienka, said: “I would be surprised if a Nigerian wins the tournament because I don’t think we have gotten to that level yet.
|Mr. Godwin Kienka (far right) says he would be surprised if a Nigerian wins it|
“The NCC Tennis League may have helped the players a lot, but I really do not think we have gotten to that level where a Nigerian player would win the Governor’s Cup just yet.”
So, is it going to be another year of jamboree for the Nigerian stars at the tournament?
Will we just witness the presence of the foreign players in our country? Will it just be another case of ‘give us our money for losing in the first round’?
It’s high-time we defined the reason the tournament is being organised; just for the Nigerian players to mingle with their foreign counterparts, or for a Nigerian player to follow the tradition of ‘host and win’ as is common to soccer.
Nigerian players have to rise up to the occasion and give their foreign counterparts a fight.
In the ‘yet-to-be-published’ interview with Nigeria’s newly-crowned number one male tennis player, Thomas Otu, he explained that, “I really believe that we can defeat those white guys. We only need to be fitter and mentally tougher, then we need to up our game a little bit.
|Thomas Otu, Nigeria’s new number male tennis player is very optimistic|
“If we can put all these in place, I do not see these foreigners dominating the Governor’s Cup again.”
Are we really ready for our international counterparts? Will a Nigerian do the unthinkable this year and just win the tournament as an ITF Future?