Every tennis player knows that if they can produce a powerful serve, they’re one solution closer to becoming superstars. Peter Ubiebi surely comes close.
And in this part of the world, most players often do not have the luxury of trainings that help them achieve same, but the same cannot be said of Peter, the 10-year-old son of legendary junior tennis coach, Abel Ubiebi.
Without any form of panic or uncertainty, the youngster, a Basic 6 pupil of Amazing Grace Nursery and Primary School, hit his big serves at a recent competition.
While some will remember him for the double faults that resulted from his consistent big serves, he’ll be best remembered as the fearless and confident 10-year-old who hit aces at an age-grade competition.
At the 2020 edition of the Azimuth Shipping Lines Limited Junior Tennis Championship held inside the National Stadium, Surulere, Peter who’s the head boy in his school, was all tears after losing to an opponent.
Nigeria Tennis Live captured the moment he was reporting the incident to his dad. “They were doing me ojoro, the Umpire was doing me ojoro,” the naive youngster had said, amid tears.
When our correspondent caught up with him recently, and reminded him about that incident, he had a big smile on his face.
“Do you remember that match?” our correspondent had asked. “Yes na,” Peter responded with a trademark smile.
In spite of his aces and big serves, the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club player lost to his opponent, an indication that he’s not yet the finished product.
“He was lobbing the balls, but I didn’t,” he said, trying to explain why he lost.
“When I’m on the court, I try to move the opponent, try to serve well and feel good on the court.
“Even though I lost, I felt good on the court,” he added.
Peter’s proud dad, Coach Abel, was not on ground to watch him play, but he got reports about the son’s participation in the tournament.
“My dad said that my game has changed and that I did well. That I should try to be consistent and that if I put my balls on the court, I’ll do very well,” the young man said while frolicking with his racket.
Like many tennis players, Peter wants to become a pro as he admires the likes of Federer, Nadal, Tsitsipas, Mon Fils, Djokovic, et al.
And if his knowledge of tennis is anything to go by, it does appear as if he’s on the way to becoming a big, big player.
He gives an indepth explanation of how he tackles a player on the court on game days.
“If I don’t move the player and I’m giving the player straight balls, I’ll give him either cross court or down the line with spin and less power to more of the angles,” Peter said while gesticulating how he’d do it on the court.
Asked how he became this knowledgeable at his young age, he said: “My dad taught me all of these with tennis videos and my new coach too.”
(Joseph) Imeh, (David) Dawariye, Oyinlomo (Quadre) and (Godsgift) Timibra are some of the Nigerian players he knows and admires because, according to him, “they move on the court and I like their style of play.”
Peter describes himself as a one-hand forehander “and I can do the both backhands.”
“My forehand is my strongest weapon. If I move the player, I’ll just go to the net.”
His coach, Musa Buraimo, who took over from the dad after the latter left for the United States, has hailed the youngster as one with great potentials.
“The only thing we’re working on now is the fitness, more concentration and focus.
“When we started work on his serve, he was always complaining about his wrist, but I told him – without serves, you can’t play.
“You have a good kick serve, why don’t you try a big serve, to help your kick serve?
“I served like two, three times. He saw the way I was serving, he tried it over and again, and I was surprised to see him bumping those balls in on match day,” the man fondly called Coach Afro said.
Explaining further, he said: “I spoke to him afterwards and told him – you see, practice makes perfect. No pain, no gain.
“Like I told him even before his dad left, I watched him play a few times and told the dad – your son is intelligent. And you can see he is using that intelligence in playing matches.
“He has everything to make him a pro. The only thing he lacks now is his fitness, and that’s what we’re working on now.”
The youngster has only just played a few major tournament in recent years, but he is already being touted as a solid player for the future.
Nigerians will now also be looking forward to seeing this young, brave, ferocious server of the ball, and a technically gifted player, live up to his dreams.