Pristinely-gifted Nigerian tennis wonder kid, MaryLove Edwards, did not win the 2017 Senior CBN Tennis Open championship in spite of the huge support and followership she got during and prior to the final match.
Her fairly-tale run to the final already made her a sweetheart of many Nigerian tennis enthusiasts who stormed the National Stadium to be a part of history – watching the first ever senior final with a 12-year-old finalist – and they were not disappointed.
|MaryLove Edwards looking dejected after the loss in the final of the CBN Open on Saturday, June 3, 2017.|
She lost in two straight sets of 6-0, 6-3 but became a national heroine in the course of the tournament, and was a proud custodian of N500,000 in spite of the loss.
The winner of the CBN Open wins N700,000 while the runner-up smiles to the bank with N200,000 lesser than, and by virtue of her qualification for the final, MaryLove already had one hand on the half a million prize money for the runner up.
|The support for the budding star was massive, the first of its kind.|
More than ever, Nigerian tennis witnessed real support for a tennis player. The entire staff Temple Management company rallied support for the young lady and even in defeat, they kept singing her praise.
“By qualifying for the final, you’re already a champion,” Koye Sowemimo, the sports head of the management company told the young champ.
MaryLove strived to rewrite history books on the day as she sought to do to Sarah Adegoke – eventual winner – what she (Sarah) aimed to do to former number one player, Fatimah Abinu exactly five years ago, but it never worked.
|You are destined for the top… says this man to MaryLove after the loss.|
Sarah, a fragile giant killer at the time – just like MaryLove – thought she could cap a perfect tournament by defeating a vastly-experienced Abinu, but she was put in her place at the finals.
Fast forward five years, Sarah is already a national champion and has been arguably Nigeria’s most consistent female player over the past few years.
|MaryLove and her coach, Kayode Savage, have formed an unparalled bond.|
There were many other words of encouragement for MaryLove in spite of the loss from people who were just at the stadium to watch the best of tennis actions, as she is perceived to be Nigeria’s next big thing in female tennis alongside Angel McCleod and Oyinlomo Quadri.
One important take away from the tournament remains the fact the youngster paved way for other junior players to believe that they can also beat great players.