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‘Talent Alone Is Not Enough To Get Nigerian Tennis Up There’

US-based Nigerian tennis sensation, Abubakar Sadiq Tswako has been in the States for about 18 months and has already started making his presence felt in ‘no man’s land’. In this exclusive interview with Naija Tennis Special, the Criminal Justice College student explains why talent is not the answer to Nigeria’s tennis problems and how he relates with his female colleagues.

How long have you been in the States?
I have been in the States for 18 months. The first 6 months I was in Triangle Tennis Academy in North Carolina. While I was there, I sent my video out to a couple of schools seeking for scholarship.

For how much longer will you be there?
I have three more years of school left and I really hope to make the best out of it.

Did you win a scholarship to go there or how did you find your way there?
I got a scholarship to come here.

Sadiq is leaving no stone unturned in combining his education with sports.

How are you combining your academics with sport?
To be honest, it hasn’t been easy combing tennis and schooling together most especially during the season. We practice everyday and travel weekend to other school for games. But trust the Nigerian resilience in all of us, I have tried to stay on top of my game and to also ensure that my scholarship is justified.

In comparison with Nigerian Tennis, how would you rate tennis in America?
I must say Nigeria as a whole has a lot of talents but talent alone can’t get us there. Here in America, we work on and off the court. The facilities are there; balls, strings, and everything you can think of to give you stability in the game. We play matches almost every week here.

Being the only black man in the team was definitely going to be a challenge for young Tswako

What are you biggest challenges since you got there?
My biggest was my academic works. I had problems with my grades so I had to put in more efforts so that I would not lose my scholarship. I am majoring on Criminal Justice and combining it with playing tennis, all those trainings, the on the court challenges as well… one just has to be on top of one’s game.

How easy or difficult was it for you to settle down?
Settling down was not that difficult for me. I was hardworking off and on the court, I got to meet people who were able to guide me.

His colour did not weigh him down during competitions

Do you have a girlfriend in school (winks)?
I’m not in a relationship at the moment.

How do you cope with the ladies all around you?
Well I most say as a young athlete you will have to deal with girls most especially on the campus. It is something that will just come to you naturally. One has to exhibit a high level of discipline with the ladies even if they flock around you.

Seeing his African brothers came as a huge relief for the budding Nigerian star.

What is your ambition with tennis?
I’m playing flight to both singles and doubles. I had some challenges being the only black guy in the team. It was a tough time but I was able to cope. My ambition is to try pro after my college. I’m training pretty well this summer with TI Academy and also playing the USTA league.

What do you miss the most about Nigeria?
I miss hanging around with my friend off course family too. Hopefully, I will be coming down this December for vacation.

Have you won any tournament since you got to the States?
The best I did was finals at the Brooklyn open and I got $1000. I won the was also once adjudged the player of the

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