Is it too early to talk about Nigeria’s participation at the 2022 version of the Davis Cup? Maybe not.
Out of the four editions of the Rainoil Tennis Open Championship – three on clay, one on hard court, Henry Atseye has won twice.
And on both occasions, he won convincingly against the most in-form player in the country, at times when people least expected him to come out victorious.
From the outcome of these highly competitive national tournaments, it appears that Atseye, now up to 4th on the national rankings, is quite familiar with the clay court.
And on the premise of his performances on clay and the consistency, would it be wrong for the Abuja-based former national champion to be recalled to the Davis Cup team?
Coupled also with the fact that he has served his match-fixing ban following the infamous incident in 2019.
Nigeria’s fortunes at the World Cup of tennis has dipped beyond imaginations in recent years, and from hustling to qualify out of Group III, Nigeria is now struggling to get out of Group IV, after the recent demotion.
From all indications, of all the most in-form players in the country, Henry Atseye boasts a CV of one who’s very familiar with the surface on which the Davis Cup event is being played, having already represented Nigeria at the event nearly a decade ago.
Of all the players with whom he played at the tournament at the time, Atseye is the only in-form player, and may yet maintain the status quo for a while if he keeps fit.
In his matches at the Rainoil Tennis Open Championship, he showed grit, pace, composure, experience, maturity and patience to pick up his points against his opponents, and all of these ensured that he didn’t leave without the topmost prize.
And these are the qualities the NTF technical department will be glad to be ‘armed’ with going into a competition of Davis Cup’s status.
The Davis Cup event may still be about six months away, but the Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF) may do well to start preparing for the competition already.