Head of the technical department at the Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF) has lambasted critics of the country’s players after their performance at the recently concluded Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis Championship.
Nigerian Tennis Live reports that no Nigerian player made it beyond the second round of the ITF-approved pro-circuit serving West and Central Africa, even though some of them played really well across the two legs of the Futures.
But the experienced coach told our correspondent after the last Nigerian player, Joseph Imeh, could not move past the second round, that the players put in their best, even though many people kept bashing them for putting up a poor show.
He noted emphatically that the Nigerian situation has not helped the players and they have even defied all the odds to get as far as they did in the tournament.
|Joseph Imeh was arguably Nigeria’s best player at the recently concluded Governor’s Cup Tennis tournament but did not progress beyond the second round of the ITF Futures.|
“We have to give kudos to the players.
“Let us look at the Nigerian situation critically; one school of thought will tell you that the players are not doing well and another will say they’re not being encouraged. But based on my experience over the years as a player and as a coach, it is beyond any of these.
“From this tournament, our players will remain home while their counterparts will go to European countries to play more tournaments.
“One has the resources while the other doesn’t. Personal sponsorship, and outside sponsors; how many of either of these do we have?” Coach Akinloye queried.
Speaking further, he explained how corporate bodies have to come to the aid of the federation, as he argued that the NTF cannot do everything alone as many keep expecting.
According to him: “We have five weeks out of 52 as against an European who has over 200 and chooses where to play. I just get irritated when people write that Nigerian players crashed. This mentality must change and everybody should come together to make things work in the country.
|Coach Rotimi Akinloye receives his certificate after being adjudged one of Nigeria’s finest coaches by Spanish instructors after a two-day training session in Lagos.|
“For me, a player has to be disciplined, be a hungry worker and be prepared to put in 100% at all times to get maximum performance because performance gives result.”
While listing the prerequisites for the players’ success, Coach Akinloye said: “A world class environment will produce a world class athlete. Do we have a world class environment? If the answer is no, you can see why we are not measuring up.
“Coaches Education programmes, high performance training centre for officials and players and a sustained programme of training or tournaments both within and outside the country are some of the things that can help rescue tennis in our country.
“If these are put in place, we shall see our players returning to the glorious days. Let’s give kudos to Tombim, Dayak and GSL for adding to the Futures in Nigeria, if not for them, we won’t have five-week Futures in the country.
“Tennis is a capital intensive sport, that’s why we need more individuals and corporate sponsorships to get to where we want to. We should have an increased number of junior tournaments; both local and foreign and senior, and increased number of weeks our players will perform.”