For those who have been closely following junior tennis in Nigeria for some years now, the name Murewa Egbeyemi is fast becoming a household name.
Murewa started playing tennis at two. He’s been playing for eight years, having started with his father – a complete athlete himself, who represented Nigeria within and outside the country, and he seems to be reaping the good fruit of his consistency over the years.
“I saw my dad playing the game and I had interest in it. The way he was hitting his fore and back hand was powerful, that was what interested me about tennis,” Murewa, the calm youngster started.
He was extremely excited about the prospect of having an interview with Nigeria Tennis Live, and this was obvious when our correspondent had a sit down with him inside the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan, Lagos.
In company of his dad, sister and mum, Murewa, a huge fan of Novak Djokovic’s, could not hide his smile as he repeatedly asked: “where are we having the interview?” “should I change into my tennis outfit before the interview or is this how we’ll have it?”
When he settled further into the interview, he soon found his voice, and explained how he intends to become a pro in the nearest future.
Sounding really convinced about what he said, he explained: “I really want to become a professional tennis player, and I like Djokovic, because his backhand is always good and he adds power to it.”
And how does this youngster believe so much that he can achieve his dream of becoming like the world number one in Nigeria where sponsorship to travel for tournaments is quite difficult to come by?
As if to show our correspondent that he was prepared for the next question on how he expects to become a professional player like Djokovic, he said: “I train three hours a day and four days a week. Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays. It doesn’t affect my school.”
After a brief pause, Nigeria Tennis Live asked Murewa about his tennis rival and friend, Malcolm Osaji, and his response was quite interesting.
“Who is Malcolm Osaji to you?” our correspondent had asked.
“He’s my friend. And he’s also my tennis friend, and my tennis opponent in every final that I have played. I’m always meeting him in the finals,” the reigning national Under-10 Champion said with a smile suggesting how close he is to Malcolm.
“It feels good to always beat him. In all the finals, he always plays well, but I always win and I’m always happy.”
But even though they are friends, Murewa has never felt the urge to allow his friend get the better of him in any of their seven finals.
“I don’t feel like allowing him win. Because if I allow him win now, it will get into his head that he can be beating me. So, that will increase his confidence that he can be beating me.
“If he beats me, I’ll still feel the same way but I’ll be sad that I didn’t win,” he added with a smirk on his face.
In spite of the rivalry, however, Murewa believes that he and Malcolm should grow together in tennis, travel together, and win Championships together.
“Me and Malcolm can be pros in tennis and enter like all those Wimbledon and US Open together.
“I want to travel to play with him because Malcolm is also a good tennis player,” he offered.
Murewa doesn’t honestly know any popular Nigerian tennis player apart from Marylove Edwards, but he plans to change that narrative.
“I want people to know me as a professional tennis player,” the ten-year-old noted.
This youngster is surely determined to go all out with his tennis dreams and there’s surely no stopping him, especially with the enabling environment.
And his rivalry with Malcolm seems to be one of the good things to happen to Nigerian tennis development in recent times.
Nigeria Tennis Live will follow up on the players’ growth over the years and share insights with our esteemed audience scattered globally.