Nigeria’s U-18 tennis player, Joseph Imeh, has explained how he has grown up since a racquet-breaking incident which outshined his superb performance at the Ekiti All Nigeria Tennis Open early this year.
The teenager, who recently won gold medals for Nigeria at the recently concluded ITF Junior Circuit in Togo and Benin, told Naija Tennis Special that he has learnt his lessons and playing more tournaments has made him better.
“Playing tournaments regularly makes you stronger psychologically and I think I am attaining that status gradually.
|Joseph Imeh, during a recent tournament in Lagos.|
“I have moved on from that incident and I think it was just one of those times when you look back and smile at yourself for doing some of those things.
“In Togo, there were bigger players in terms of ranking, but I stood my feet, I remained calm and disciplined and today I am a much better player,” he explained.
Prior to the tournament, the player was ranked about 1,500 in the world. But after defeating players of higher ranks, he has moved up to about 350 in the world.
According to Imeh, “I played players in the top 300 in the world and it was very tough for me. I was really prepared for the tournament because I trained really hard ahead of the Circuit.
“Winning tournaments gives you more inspiration and after winning the first final, I became stronger. That set the tone for the second leg which I also won.
“I did not go to Togo thinking that I would win the tournament. I only told myself that if I worked very hard, I could exceed my expectations and that was exactly what happened.”
Like most tennis players who leave their countries for other countries, Imeh also had slight difficulties, especially as it had to do with accommodation and feeding.
“Thank God for my coach, Mr. Abel, he assisted me a lot in that aspect, that was the only reason I was not stranded in Togo or Benin because it is not a tournament where you make money,” he recalls.
His parents have also given a lot of support to the youngster after seeing his passion for the game and how much progress he has made over the years.
The Djokovic fanatic player, who trains in Lagos, stated that, “they have also helped me financially, and they believe a lot in me.
“The fact that I come from a very humble background also makes things a lot easier for me. Dad pushes me a lot to work harder and get better and that, for me, gives
a massive boost while on the court.”