Abdul Idi is a former junior champion in Nigeria who won the 1985 boys singles at the 5th National sports festival in Kwara.
During his hey days, he also won the boys singles & doubles event at the 1987 ITF in Lagos and went ahead to obtain full tennis scholarship from Livingstone College Salisbury, North Caroline from January 1989 to May 1993.
This US-based tennis coach and former junior star spoke with Naija Tennis Special from his Bradenton, Florida base, where he explained just how Nigerian players can be better than their American counterparts.
For how long have you been living in the United States?
Since 1989 but I have been visiting. I was in Nigeria in May and did free tennis clinics at National Stadium, Lagos, VGC Club, NUJ Tennis Club, Yola and Jalingo stadium.
Interesting. But what is the major difference between tennis in Nigeria and what is obtainable in the United States?
|Coach Idi in his home town of Wukari, Taraba state in 2009.|
The truth is that the tournaments they play here in the United States and the sponsorship for the players to attend competitions are the key differences. Asides that, I don’t see so much difference between both countries.
How about the quality of players?
There are good players in Nigeria but the standard is higher in USA because they play tournaments every week through out the year.
So, what you’re saying in essence is that if we play more tournaments in Nigeria, we can be as good as the players in the United States?
Absolutely. During my days in Nigeria, we used to have tournaments all over the country. When you compete on a regular basis, it brings out the best from your game.
You must have been following Nigerian tennis of late. Which player do you think is coming close to becoming a world beater?
There is a college player Moses Michael at Xavier university in Louisiana. I talked to him when he first came to America. Then, others are spread across Europe, playing really well there.
Do you have plans to return to Nigeria – maybe permanently – to make tennis great again in the country?
|Coach Abdul Idi and some of his trainees during another training session.|
I will always be visiting to help out as much as possible.
But not to stay permanently?
I don’t know, I am not sure about this and cannot guarantee staying put in the country. However, there good coaches there doing wonderful jobs, Abel, Ubale, Rotimi, Richard Inyang, among several other top coaches.
Some people also complained about bad leadership, don you think this can be corrected with the current NTF president?
It seems the new president wants to do things differently for tennis, so let us all wait and see. I will also wait and see. I am all in for the progress of tennis
What would you say you have achieved through tennis?
I would say many things. Giving to the community by donating sports equipment to junior players over the years and conducting free lessons when I visit Nigeria. I also obtained degree in Social Work from Livingstone College in North Carolina & Masters degree in Community Health from Minnesota State University-Mankato. I have a wife a son.
If any of your children shows interest in tennis, would you allow them?
Actually my son is playing tennis. I encourage him by telling my humble story of how I obtained tennis scholarship to come to America for studies and tennis.
What’s your greatest moment ever in tennis?
There are many but the one that stands out for me is when I lost only one singles match on my college tennis career at Livingstone College from 1989-93.
What was your childhood ambition outside tennis?
My ambition outside of tennis was to use tennis & get good education in order to make a difference in some one else life, that has basically been it.