She had just returned from the International Tennis Federation, ITF Junior Circuit in Togo and Benin Republic where she was one of Nigeria’s brightest performers.
But Dubai-based Angel McCloud wasted little time in showcasing what stuff she’s made of at the recently concluded NNPC/ SNEPCo Junior Championship, aptly organised by the International Tennis Academy, ITA, as she swiftly brushed aside wonder kid, Mary-Love Edwards.
Although she admitted after her first match against Edwards that, “I think she is one of the best players around,” McCloud still showed her superiority in the final matches of the girls’ U-14 and 16 where she defeated Edwards in fierce contests.
A visibly delighted McCloud, who claimed she has never been to America, her father’s country of birth, told nigeriantennislive that the feeling of winning her first title in Nigeria, her country of birth, is about the most amazing thing to happen to her career.
“I had won a couple of tournaments in Dubai and other countries where I had been to but this happened to be my first in Nigeria where I was born.
“It is really special to me because it leaves me with a very great feeling as we speak. My mother is a Nigerian so, you can understand the excitement going on in the family right now,” the fair-skinned teenager explained.
On the emergence of McCloud, Godwin Kienka, Director, International Tennis Academy, ITA, explained that the academy is always out to groom the best budding players in the country and never envisaged the dominance of the half American player.
“We have been in this business for a while now and we always pride ourselves with bringing out the best budding players for the country.
“Although we knew McCloud to be a good player, we didn’t know that she could be this ruthless on the court. Having said that, she is not the only one at the moment.
“We have also identified some other youngsters whose emergence will create a form of healthy rivalry between our young players, this will in turn give us better players in the nearest future,” he said.
While McCloud, 13, won double titles to cap a fine performance, Edwards still believes her new ‘foe’ still has work to do to become the perfect player. 9-year old Edwards believes “McCloud did not move on the court as much as she is supposed to. If she can do more leg work, she’ll be a much better player.
“I couldn’t defeat her because she played better than me in both finals. But I also believe that I could have defeated her if I had stepped up my game.”
Kayode Savage, who coaches Edwards and has monitored McCloud from close quarters, said: “Last year, Edwards could not defeat Zainab Oladimeji because of her experience but this year, she did. It is fast becoming a secret rivalry where players are always ready to oust each other.
“McCloud’s arrival could also open up another path to female tennis rivalry in the country, this will make our tennis better.
“If the right atmosphere and exposure are given to these young ones, I can assure you that we will not lack top quality female players in this country,” the coach fondly called KK explained.
In furtherance of its developmental
|Angel McCloud (middle), after receiving her trophies during the recently concluded NNPC/SNEPCo Junior Tennis Championship at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, LLTC, Onikan, Lagos.|
programmes, the ITA has assured that another top class junior championship will hold in Kaduna in November as the academy hopes to maintain its momentum in players’ discovery.