As hosts, Nigeria, understandably was given the privilege of having the largest number of Wild Card slots as no fewer than eight of the country’s players moved into the main draw due to the fact that precious few of its players are in the ATP and WTA rankings.
|Moses Michael leads charge of Nigerian stars at this year’s Governor’s Cup|
Leading the nation’s quest for glory in the $80,000 prize-money tournament is Moses Micheal, the reigning champion, who took advantage of the abridge version held last year due to the Ebola virus scourge which restricted participating players to Africa.
Micheal is the highest-ranked Nigerian player in the ATP and after helping Tombim to win the NCC Team Tennis title on Saturday, he is expected to have his hands full as players from Europe, Asia and The Americas will all be featuring this time around.
Another player that will be on the spotlight is Melissa Ifidzhen, the Russian-Nigerian player who has been making waves both home and abroad.
The 18-year-old took Nigerian tennis by storm by winning this year’s Central Bank of Nigerian Open women’s singles, Women’s double and the mixed double titles.
The former Russian junior champion also comes into the championship in good form as she ended up as women’s doubles finalist at the ITF Circuit in Egypt two weeks ago. She has also won two women singles titles in Russia prior to her remarkable display in Egypt.
“I’m hoping for another memorable experience in Nigeria. The first time I played here was very successful and I’m looking forward to a good tournament. Hopefully, I will get my first WTA singles points right here in Nigeria,” she said after a training session on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the LOC has urged tennis fans to turn out en masse and fill the stands stating that the Governor’s Cup is gradually becoming synonymous with renowned international tournaments in tennis.
Tournament Coordinator, Prince ‘Wale Oladunjoye, pointed that the next generation of world stars will be coming from the tournament; a fact he highlighted with India’s Sania Mirza, the 2004 champion, who is the current Wimbledon and US Open doubles title holder.
Bosnia and Herzegovina player, Aldin Setkic is the highest ranked star in this year’s tournament. He is ranked number 231, while French player, Sherazad Reix is leading the female player. She is ranked number 247 in the world.
Players from more than 50 countries will be taking part in the double-phase fortnight-long tournament