Sponsors of the newly-introduced Tombim Abuja Open, have expressed their desire to organise a minimum of 40 ITF-Futures in Nigeria, Naija Tennis Special can authoritatively report.
Mr. Edmond Ajoge, Managing Director of Tombim Services Limited, major sponsor of the Futures I & II event, disclosed that the absence of enough tournaments in the country has negatively affected the tennis players in the country.
Hence, their resolve to ensure that no fewer than 40 ITF-Futures will be played in Nigeria every year as is the practice in many other top tennis-playing countries of the world.
In his address during a press briefing to officially announce the start of the male-only ITF event, Ajoge, who recently sponsored two Nigerian players on a two-month tour of Egypt for ITF Circuits, noted that the country’s tennis will surely rise again if necessary things are put in place.
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“For instance Borna Coric who beat Andy Murray in the Dubai Open this year and Rafael Nadal at Basel Open late last year, played the ITF futures in Lagos, known as the Lagos Governor’s Cup.
“Coric is currently ranked 61 in world. This is the first time Abuja will be hosting an ITF futures. Currently, only one ITF futures is played in Nigeria, and that is the Lagos Governor’s Cup.
“The tournament is a male only event and will feature singles and doubles matches. The finals for the singles will be played on Saturday while that of the doubles will be played on Friday. The total prize money for the competition is $30, 000.00 (thirty thousand dollars), $15, 000.00 (fifteen thousand dollars) for each leg.
“The competition is borne out of a desire to provide opportunities for Nigerian Players to collect vital ATP points, and to attract some of the best up-and- coming players to play in Nigeria.
“The competition has 35 ATP points up for grabs and the winner of both legs has the potential to jump from not being ranked at all in the world, to being ranked in the top 500 in the world.
“It is our desire to organize at least 5 to 10 of this event every year in Nigeria and hopefully, one day, catch up with the over 40 tournaments organised by Egypt each year.
“The competition has so far received entries from Russia, the United States, Brazil, India, South Africa, Croatia, Spain, Zimbabwe, Candada, Uganda, Togo, France, Moldovo, Ghana, Zambia, Germany, the UK and a host of other countries.
“We believe that the tournament will showcase some of the best rising stars in the world,” Ajoge stated in his address.
While also eulogising the sponsor for their giant strides, Engr. Sani Ndanusa, President, Nigeria Tennis Federation, NTF encouraged other corporate bodies to come into sponsorship of events to come into sports sponsorship.
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“This tournament has been made possible by the excellent partnerships that the NTF has been developing over the years with individuals in government and the private sector. “As you are all aware, government cannot do it alone, it needs the help of the private sector. Just as the saying goes, think not what your country can do for you, think of what you can do for your country.
“Some individuals, like Tombim Services Limited have taken up this exhortation literarily by setting up a partnership with the NTF.
“Tombim Services Limited is an indigenous company that is committed to the development of the game of tennis in Nigeria. Some of the achievements of Tombim to date include: entering into a partnership with ABE Life and Skills Sports Institute to set up a tennis academy that has been developing young talents for free.
“One of my greatest joys was to witness a Nigerian win the Lagos Governors Cup last year. That Nigerian is coached by Coach Abbey and is a product of the academy.
“They also entered into a partnership with Blackwell Tennis to run monthly tennis competitions for Nigerian players. As you all know, the level of Nigerian tennis saw a dramatic leap in 2014 due to the constant competitions that our players were engaged in”.
The tournament is billed to hold from 27 April- 10 May, 2015 at the Package B arena of the National Stadium, Abuja.