His first trip to Europe was one of those experiences one would rather forget to remember, but Abayomi Philips has surely learnt his lessons from that encounter.
Once touted as the next big thing in Nigerian tennis, the 19-year-old did not have a good first experience on his first trip abroad, especially to a cold region.
He was badly beaten by unseeded players, even though he was top seed in most of the tournaments he participated in.
“Actually, that was my first time of going to Europe. It was so tough, it was a different ball game entirely,” he told Nigeria Tennis Live after a training session inside the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
He got a bye in the first round, and still lost his second round tie in Stavanger, Norway.
From there, he moved from there to Denmark and got booted out in the first round, before returning to Oslo, Norway where the story was no different.
At the end, he could not boast of a win against the European youngsters who were already accustomed to playing in cold regions, even though they sometimes played indoors.
While speaking further on the challenges, he said: “I was the number one seed, I tried my best, but it was not easy. It was so so tough.
“But I believe that when next I go, I’ll do better.”
Currently ranked 15 in Nigeria, Abayomi shared his experience and the lessons he learnt while squaring up against his more efficient European opponents.
“In Europe, they don’t ‘slice’ the ball, almost all their players have good backhands and forehands and their volleys… they’re so complete.
“And most of their players there are from their academies. But I know that if I train harder, I should be able to play better next time,” the teenager stated.
All eyes will be on him ahead of the forthcoming VEMP Open championship which kicks off in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, as soon as the National Youth Games is completed in Ilorin, the Kwara State Capital.
Nigeria Tennis Live will also monitor his progress in the national competition when it eventually holds in Abuja, in October.