Legendary Nigerian tennis superstar, Abdulmumin Babalola, has revealed that Nigeria urgently needs to work on building a High Performance Centre in the country for tennis development to take proper effect.
The Davis Cup captain who was quite emotional with his speech during an interview with Nigerian Tennis Live on the sidelines of the recently concluded Rainoil Open Tennis Championship, noted that having a high performance centre synonymous to the one in Morocco will boost tennis development in the country.
He explained that as a one-time beneficiary of scholarship to attend the one in South Africa, it is imperative that the Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF), through its president, Engr. Dayo Akindoju, works out something to aid junior tennis development in the country.
|Abdulmumin Babalola wants the NTF to look into the issue of building High Performance Centres in Nigeria to fast track junior tennis development in the country.|
“You see that our president, there’s nothing he cannot achieve if he sets his heart to it. I trust him, and I believe in him. I know that we can have an ITF High Performance Centre in Nigeria through him, it will be one of the best legacies for tennis development in Nigeria,” the Ibadan-based tennis player began.
Babalola, who is also the players’ representative on the board of the NTF, noted that he has a strong conviction that most of the junior players who have proven themselves during junior tournaments can be ‘dumped’ at the facility, a development which he believes will (no doubt), make them better.
According to him: “We need a bridge between the junior and senior players. We need the guys who can take over from those of us calling ourselves senior players. I want the president to concentrate on the junior ones so that they can build the bridge.
“If we can have a high performance centre, tennis development will become much easier for the younger players.
“We cannot be waiting for the ITF to ask us to bring one or two players after watching them perform well at a junior tournament before having our players at a high performance centre. If each country can build one in their place, they will employ certified coaches who know what it takes to handle such kids.
|Nigeria’s Oyinlomo Quadre is one of the beneficiaries of the ITF Scholarship to study and play tennis at the ITF High Performance Centre in Morocco.|
“They will be schooling there, like an Academy. There won’t be anything like they want to go home, unless during festive periods when they want to go home on break.
“We need to work on this as urgently as we can because if we don’t have something like this, in the next ten years, we are going nowhere as far as tennis development is concerned.
“When we work on this academy, we take two players from each state and dump them there. If the states cannot pay, the NTF can say ‘okay, bring them for a month’s training there’ and when they return home, they can easily tell their parents, sports councils that they want to return there.
“They start sourcing for sponsors to get the kids into the Academy and it becomes a thing of pride, even for states’ sports councils as the names of the states will be attached to players who start showing promises in the centres.
“This is something that we need to work on as an urgent matter because that appears to be the future of tennis in Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, Babalola, alongside other Nigerian tennis players will be slugging it out in Kano in another week of top tennis action after the Rainoil Open Tennis Championship and Nigerian Tennis Live will bring updates from the tournament.