The sordid state of wheelchair tennis in Nigeria is beginning to draw more emotional speeches from the players than ever.
For over four years now, the players have been exposed to only one tournament per year, and always have to wait until the next year before they get to play another, a situation which has all but crippled activities with the sports in Nigeria.
|Some of the wheelchair tennis players at the stadium recently. They don’t have more than one tournament in a year.|
Nigeria’s Wasiu Yusuf, Alex Adewale and Jude Uwaze had been shining lights in wheelchair tennis in Africa and were the most ranked on the continent a little less than half a decade ago. Such was their dominance that they were always winning the African championship and qualifying for the World Team Cup, but were always falling short where it mattered most.
While Yusuf and Uwaze have since left the tennis scene, Adewale popularly known as Osama continued with the sport and has been the only winner of the CBN wheelchair tournament since its introduction about four years ago.
|Osama poses with a NAN reporter after winning his fourth consecutive CBN Open trophy.|
At the 2017 edition, Adewale also made sure to make the title his permanently as he continued with his dominance in the sport, but he is very sad about this development.
“There are a lot of people who are showing interest, but they are always discouraged because we do not even have any tournament in the country for wheelchair tennis players,” he told Naija Tennis Special on the sidelines after his conquest at the National Stadium over the weekend.
“We have been here since January but there have been no tournaments, no matter how small. After this CBN Open, the next one is next year and that is how it has been for some time now.
“The Sports Commission should even help us get ITF Futures so that we can play tournaments outside the country,” Adewale, a one-time US Open entrant, stated emotionally.
|The centre court at the tennis section was even barely filled up during the finals of the men’s singles for the able-bodied players.|
The Edo-born tennis star also expressed his disappointment at always coming out tops in the tournament every year, a development he attributes to the absence of competition in the country.
He said: “I also need competition, but I am not getting that here. I need more people to play the game at the highest level and give me a good challenge that will make me step up my game too.”