Landmark Events, Incidents That Rocked Nigerian Tennis In 2023
Now that the 2023 tennis season is officially over, it feels like the most appropriate time to reflect on some incidents that triggered certain emotions in the year.
The occurrence of several incidents came as a rude shock to the Nigerian tennis fraternity, some of which many are yet to recover from, while some were also really remarkable.
Nigeria Tennis Live has decided to share some of these incidents with our readers, to remind them of some unfavourable incidents, as well as refresh their minds about some of these incredible moments which Nigerians are not likely to forget in a haste.
Davis Cup Qualification
If any incident gladdened the hearts of Nigerian tennis followers in 2023, one of them has to be Nigeria’s qualification for the Davis Cup Group III.
The Nigerian team, led by top national tennis coach, Benson Ishicheli, was described as the best for Nigeria to gain qualification from Group IV after the demotion suffered in 2019.
Ironically, Nigeria regained promotion to Group III in Rwanda, the same country that condemned our team to her demotion about four years earlier.
This singular feat brought a lot of tennis followers to their knees, as Coach Benson was reduced to tears following the eventual qualification alongside Ghana.
Of all the remarkable events that happened to Nigerian tennis in 2023, this qualification ranks amongst the most exciting, as the players who prosecuted this event would not stop being excited.
Nigerians will be looking forward to further promotion to Group II in the coming year, as this will consolidate the hard work being put in by the players.
ASF Open Postponement
With the hype and publicity that this competition had, nothing prepared Nigerians and tennis followers for what was coming. Nobody had a clue!
Not in the recent past has Nigerian tennis had any more shocking postponement of tournament as that of the ASF Open Tennis Championship.
First, Engr. Ifedayo Akindoju, the President of the Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF), had unequivocally informed Nigeria Tennis Live that the event had yet to be sanctioned by the tennis body.
However, the organizers went ahead with preparations and plans without concluding plans with the federation.
The players received the shocker of their lives when the organizers announced a postponement of the competition, and reportedly compensated the players with about N200,000 (two hundred thousand naira).
The organizers have since tendered an unreserved apology to the players, the tennis federation and the entire tennis family in Nigeria over the confusion caused by their postponement.
As things stand, the organizers are eyeing the start of the new year to reschedule the tournament and hold it as planned, but nothing has been heard yet, about the date.
Seun Ogunsakin’s Global Emergence
Even though he was already celebrated for getting into the ITF High Performance Centre in Tunisia alongside Ohunene Yakubu, Ogunsakin was definitely bound for even bigger things.
His invitation to participate in junior Grand Slam events was celebrated beyond the tennis space, as a lot of Nigerians were excited to hear that a Nigerian’s name would be listed in a Grand Slam event.
The Ekiti-born teenager will be ending the year as the African Number one U-14 player, having distinguished himself in all major tournaments in the year on the continent.
Even though he could not make it to the grand slam events, Ogunsakin went on Euro Tour in Germany and Belgium, and is currently in the United States where he has played the Eddie Herr Junior Tennis Championships as well as the Orange Bowl competition.
What a year the youngster has had, as he also proved to be Africa’s golden boy at the international competitions he participated in.
Mrs. Arinola Isa’s demise
Every follower and non-follower of tennis in Nigeria who heard the news of Mrs. Arinola Isa’s passing was shocked beyond words. It was such a catastrophic incident.
The white badge umpire who was being touted as the next bronze badge holder from Nigeria, distinguished herself among her fellow umpires, was even a more respected figure among the players.
Such was her demeanor that she was hardly ever faulted or disrespected by officials, players, and others alike.
It was on this premise that her death sent cold shivers down the spine of followers of our sport, especially because she was still active at the national tournaments held in Abuja early in the year.
Of all the incidents that occurred in 2023, this woman’s death has to be the most shocking, heart wrenching, unbelievable and devastating for the entire tennis body.
May her soul continue to rest in peace and may God watch over the family she left behind.