The 2023 edition of the annual Azimuth Shipping Lines Junior Tennis Championship was another amazing event that brought Nigeria’s top juniors together from across the federation.
The boys and girls in age grades 12, 14 and 16 gave spectators a show at the weeklong event held inside the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan, Lagos.
While the winners deservedly earned their winners’ trophies in Lagos, some of these youngsters were simply outstanding and we could not but identify them for their solid performances.
Here are six of the most outstanding players from the competition:
Strong, consistent and fearless are the best words to describe this Niger-based youngster who showed just why they traveled hundreds of kilometers to attend the event.
Throughout the tournament, she showed great composure and (obviously) listened to her coaches’ – because junior tennis players always have many coaches – instructions.
She won the girls 12 final match against pre-match favourite and home girl, Mofifunoluwa Atilola, despite the support that the latter got from her fans in the court.
What her brothers, Elisha and Elijah could not do on the court, Emmanuella did, and even in grand style. She’s surely one to watch out for in the future.
During her reign in the juniors, Marylove Edwards was almost unplayable. Virtually every young female player didn’t want to play against her. And it seems she has seemingly transferred her tennis ability to her younger brother.
David, it appears, has even gone one step further to become an exceptional player on the court.
The one-handed backhand player was always a beauty to watch in all the matches he participated in. He lost the final to a formidable opponent, especially after losing steam. But he had done enough to earn the respect of the spectators.
His inclusion in the team to Togo for the recent ITF/CAT West and Central African Junior Tennis Championship was not a fluke after all.
Even though many will argue that this Ekiti-born player is not a new name in junior tennis, her semifinal performance against pre-tournament favourite, Khadijat Mohammed, was a spectacle.
After emerging as the female MVP at the junior CBN Open tournament in 2022, Success didn’t rest on her oars with her tennis development, as she proved, again, that Nigeria’s future in the Billie Jean King cup is as bright as the sun.
The tournaments she has participated in over the years are finally paying off and the youngster is beginning to show that she can stand her own against tough oppositions.
The Abuja-based player is not unknown among junior tennis players, but for a player who broke into the national scene barely two years ago, he is one to watch out for – surely.
His performances from the first round to the finals of the Azimuth junior competition showed a junior player with class, maturity and one who clearly knows why he’s on the court.
In his post match interview, he mentioned that he hadn’t played against his opponent before, but he adapted his game quickly after two-three games. What a mentality.
As far as junior tennis in Nigeria is concerned, one name which will echo for a long time is Chukwudubem Amasiani, he is actually here to stay.
Feelers say Bright almost missed the recent ITF/CAT West and Central African Junior Tennis Championship in Togo because she didn’t have a passport. But she miraculously made it to the team and became one of Nigeria’s stars at the competition.
This unassuming 12-year-old player from Apapa tennis club is very calm and consistent on the court, and she seldom loses her head on the court.
Most people will not be quick to notice her because she doesn’t have the luxury that’s common with players that are as good as she is, but she is definitely the most underrated in her age category.
While most players are not always comfortable playing against Abuja-based Khadijat Mohammed, it is only Bright that Khadijat fears, because her Lagos-based opponent always finds a way to win.
When David Edwards made it to the boys 14 final at the Azimuth event, it was almost certain that he was going to emerge winner. He had been impressive all week long.
But Gbolahan, an Akure-based fighter, ensured that he had the last laugh in a match which was won more by the grit shown than the skills on display.
Talk about court movement, ability to go for all balls and a diehard never say never attitude on the court and Gbolahan readily comes to mind.
With the way he performed in the finals and how he managed to secure an absolutely deserved victory against David, it does look like a rivalry is already in the offing. We’re here for all of those.
Did we miss out on any player? Be sure to let us know your thoughts.