The disappointment of tennis followers and observers in the outgoing year is one which many find pretty difficult to wrap their minds around. Especially looking at how they happened.
Prior to the commencement of the tennis season, expectations had been sky high, as players as well as tennis officials were looking forward to another period of interesting activities.
But the year which promised and gave a lot, did not go without some disappointments, a development which many tennis followers consider a downward slope for Nigerian tennis.
Nigeria Tennis Live highlights some of these ‘down moments’ for tennis in 2019:
African Games Embarrassment:
The Nigeria Tennis Federation sent a powerful delegation to the African Games in Morocco, with all the top players making the list.
Coach Rotimi Akinloye and the legendary Abdulmumin Babalola were in charge of the team in Rabat; a proof that the NTF meant business.
But the players – especially the men – failed to deliver where it mattered most, leaving youngster Oyinlomo Quadre and US-based Adesuwa as the shining lights of the competition.
Nigeria returned from the tournament with two bronze medals from the female team and doubles event.
This development would eventually lead to an even more terrible situation for Nigerian tennis in 2019.
Davis Cup Demotion:
For quite some one now, the hustle for promotion from Group III of the Davis Cup is no longer new to tennis followers in Nigeria.
Even though we had come really close in 2018, it just wouldn’t happen despite the quality we took to Kenya. But it got worse in 2019.
Trouble began when the team was disbanded at the last minute for supposed acts of indiscipline, and were replaced by three new players, Emmanuel Idoko, Emmanuel Sunday and Emmanuel Paul, alongside a non-playing captain, John Atiomo.
The players tried all they could in the competition, but couldn’t even maintain the status quo; they fell like a pack of cards. Observers say it was a disaster waiting to happen.
Not only did we fail to qualify from the Group III, we were demoted from the same group; an even worse scenario for the sport.
Absence of NCC Tennis League:
Since its inception, the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) Tennis League has become an absolute source of blessing to Nigerian tennis players.
Apart from the cash prizes and glamour associated to the annual league, the competitive edge it gives the players has become a part of their season and something they always look forward to.
But the 2019 tennis season was short of the competition, and some of the players attributed this absence to their lack of match fitness.
In 2018, the NTF introduced one more national tournament which, alongside the NCC League, provided an amazing competitive atmosphere for the players all year round.
Not having the NCC League in 2019 even though other tournaments continued, may have represented a very low moment for tennis in Nigeria in the outgoing year.
There are possibly some other low moments for the 2019 tennis season which we did not cover.
Which was your lowest period of the year? Join the discussion.