Holland-based Nigerian Tennis Star, Candy Idoko, in this interview with Naija Tennis Special, explains why he believes that he can still make a difference in Nigerian tennis, among other issues.
You have been off the Nigerian Circuit for a while now, where have you been?
I had to make a decision to decide where I was going with my tennis. Then, I thought I should go to school because I did not see any future for the sport in the country with the way it was going. So, I went to school and I am in Holland, studying Business Management. I only came home recently on holiday and I just participated in the local tournaments around to stay fit and show my relevance to Nigerian tennis.
How long have you been playing tennis?
Been playing tennis for about 14 years now and it has been pretty cool. I’ve played many tournaments locally and internationally.
Could you tell us a few of the tournaments that you have played in?
There a lot of them and I have probably lost count. The CBN Open, Governor’s Cup, Dala Championship, Port-Harcourt Open, a Minna Championship, the All Africa Games and a host of others.
Tell us about your AAG adventure.
I partnered Lawal Shehu at the All Africa Games in
|Holland-based Candy Idoko still sees himself doing really well with Nigerian tennis|
Maputo in 2011. We played to the finals of the Men’s Doubles and only lost to Clifford Enosoregbe and Onyeka Mbanu to win the Silver medal. It was a great adventure for us and I am always proud of that moment when we were all on the podium.
How have you been able to combine schooling with tennis?
That has not been particularly difficult for me because when I am on the court, I focus solely on tennis and when I am in the classroom, that is where my heart dwells. I still play tennis a lot and only about two-three years ago, I played in a tournament against the World’s number 15 player.
But, some people think Candy Idoko is no longer relevant to Nigerian tennis.
Well, I would like to correct that impression because I still think I am very much relevant to the sport, especially in the country. I want to help in any way I can and alongside other players, I want to give hope and life to those upcoming players as well.
Are you fulfilled as a tennis player?
Really, I would say yes because I have paid my dues in the sport. However, coming close to meeting my target of top 500 in the world remains something that hurts somehow. I was ranked 798 in year 2010 and I expected the momentum to continue but hiccups here and made me drop drastically. The target now is to give a new lease of life to the younger players.
Do you really see a future for Nigerian tennis?
That is for sure. I mean, there are a lot of young players who are doing really well at the moment, Emmanuel Idoko, Sylvester Emmanuel, Michael Moses- who won the Governor’s Cup-, Joseph Imeh and several others. And one can begin to believe that there is massive progress in our sport. The players only need to be guided properly and the sky will be their starting point.
Are you planning to open an Academy as well?
Not particularly, but I would go into Sports Management after my Business Management programme. This would help me know how to handle the players and how to help create the right atmosphere for tennis in the country.
What’s your assessment of tennis in Nigeria in comparison with what is obtainable in Holland?
There’s a gulf in gap, a really huge difference. But I believe the missing ingredient in ours is the set up. One cannot just wake up one day and say he wants to play tennis without programming himself to do so. So, there has to be the right set up by the federation and all of those involved in the administration of the sport.