Davis Cup: Team Nigeria And A Date With Fate In Kigali
The Nigerian National Tennis Team departed for Kigali, Rwanda, to seek qualification from Africa Group IV at the Davis Cup team tournament.
The trio of Uche Oparaoji, Peter Lawal, David Ekpenyong are joined by US-based Christopher Bulus and Wilson Igbinovia in what represents Nigeria’s best shot at qualification to Group III.
On paper, team Nigeria appear to stand a good chance of qualification, not even with the array of experience, talent and maturity these youngsters possess.
Uche Oparaoji, current Nigerian number one player, is already a Davis Cup player, having previously represented the country at the Team event, so, his experience at this tournament will come in handy as he’s also the team captain.
But apart from experienced our captain, aka lefty, the Nigerian team parades another incredibly talented player in Bulus, a very solid US-based tennis star who is the only Nigerian player on the ATP rankings.
The 22-year-old player, who has been playing a bit of ITF Futures, including a 25k tournament in Congo recently, has been the best player everywhere he has gone in the United States, breaking agelong records in the process.
His involvement in this year’s Davis Cup tournament represents a huge ray of hope for the Nigerian team as he is arguably the most traveled player among the five invited to represent the country in Rwanda.
If Nigerians are excited about Bulus, then they should be more enthusiastic by the inclusion of Ekpenyong, a top 10 African junior player.
Even though he is just 17 years old, this lanky teenager is already one of the most feared junior players in Africa, while dominating the local tennis scene with most of his peers believing he is Nigeria’s toughest player at the moment.
Buoyed by his experience from playing Junior ITF tournaments across Africa, Ekpenyong may just be the joker in this team of talented youngsters.
Like Bulus, there is another prodigiously talented Nigerian tennis legacy player in Igbinovia.
Apparently following his family tradition of being tennis legends, this young man showed flashes of his brilliance when he dominated junior ITF Circuits across West Africa, rising to top 300 player in the world.
Igbinovia, now 19, is already making waves in the United States where he’s playing College tennis courtesy of his outstanding performances in the juniors and looks like one of the players the Nigerian Coach is banking on to break opponents’ hearts.
Among these players, however, is one of Nigeria’s underrated players – Abuja-based Peter Lawal.
Spectators at the final of the 2022 edition of the Lagos Tennis Cup will not forget the resilience this young man put up even though he lost the final to ‘Lefty’. He has since been on the ascendancy.
And even though he is yet to break through the seeming barriers, the man fondly called badmon pero has shown enough to prove that he’s among the very best national players at the moment.
Generally, Coach Benson Ishicheli seems to be the happiest of the coaches in Kigali at the moment as he told Nigeria Tennis Live correspondent before their departure on Sunday afternoon that he got the players he requested.
“I got all the players I requested, and Nigeria can now be sure we will return with the promotion ticket,” the smiling coach said.
All attention in Nigeria will be turned towards these guys in Rwanda as Nigerians will be expecting them to return to the country with the promotion ticket.
Ghana, Botswana, Mozambique, Kenya, Angola, Cameroon, Nigeria and hosts Rwanda will be battling for the two promotional tickets up for grabs.
Goodluck to Team Nigeria!