WEEKEND SPECIAL: Will The Proposed New ITF Futures Be Beneficiary To Nigerian Players?
The announcement made by Engr. Ifedayo Akindoju, the President of the Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF) about the possible introduction of another week of ITF Futures to the five (Tombim Open, Dayak, GSL and Governor’s Cup – across two legs) already existing in the country was rather unanticipated by tennis followers in Nigeria.
The least everybody would have expected as an addition to the tournaments in the country was a national open championship, to complement the Dala Hard Court Championship and the CBN Open which have been really regular for so many years.
Even though Engr. Ifedayo already informed of a national open coming up some time in December, the prospect of having another week of Futures in Nigeria alongside the five weeks which are already prevalent in the country seems more like an attractive proposition.
|Nigeria’s Joseph Imeh has proven that with the right atmosphere, Nigerian players can take on anybody, anywhere.|
Immediately Nigerian Tennis Live broke the news about the addition of an ITF Futures, tennis followers within and outside the country started reacting to the report, with most of the respondents expressing great delight at the piece of news.
Their happiness stemmed from the fact that the ITF Futures would aid the Nigerian players’ rankings on the ATP log, more because that is what will give them more international recognition as professional tennis players.
Mr. Yemi Obasoto, a UK-based tennis lover whose son, Adebola Obasoto is the number one young player in Ireland, noted that this development is a really good one for Nigerian tennis, adding that: “I believe there should also be Junior ITF Circuits in the country.
“This is one aspect I believe the tennis federation can really work on because it will help the younger ones hone their talents at an early stage and build the future now.”
In his submission as well, Prince Wale Oladunjoye, a seasoned sports administrator in Lagos State and an unrepentant tennis enthusiast, noted that it will bode well for Nigerian tennis if a sixth week is added to the five already on ground.
“Yes, the more the ITF Futures, the better for us in Nigeria, going forward with the full complement of officiating – Ball Boys, Line Judges and of course Chair Umpires, good medical presence including stationed Ambulance with relevant medicament/drugs and more attractive Prize Money.
|The exposure and relationship with other top players is always invaluable.|
“There should also be full hospitality for men and women as well as ensuring more better ranked players come in to play, which will allow our players mix and understudy them both on and off the pitch, particularly when they have to share a room.
“When the players have this kind of relationship, they can learn from their foreign counterparts, what to do when you wake up on a day you have a match, the kind of food to eat prior to match times and general conduct of room mate player the whole day.
“These are observations that the kids look at and pick up as habits,” the former adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Grassroots Sports development, explained.
While still listing other benefits of hosting an ITF Futures in Nigeria, Prince Oladunjoye stated that the federation could reach out to players with dual nationalities who are still willing to play for Nigeria to see how to be available to contribute to the growth and welfare of the sport.
“Particularly those whose parents sponsored them and came with them to tournaments in Nigeria and other countries. Maybe some airlines can offer them rebate going to Futures all over the world as their ambassadors and they can book hotels at venues months ahead in a bid to reduce costs and attend more event,” he added.
|Donatus Lovett is one of the female Nigerian players presently on the circuit in Senegal. The exposure will surely help her get better.|
On his own part, Alex Adewale, arguable Nigeria’s most decorated wheelchair tennis player noted that the introduction of another week of ITF Futures in the country is a good idea, but he wants the federation’s president to also look the way of the physically challenged.
The back-to-back winner of the CBN Open Wheelchair Tennis champion dropped his comment under the post on Facebook, where he wrote: “The president should remember about the second class tennis in Nigeria. Which is wheelchair tennis. They need futures too.”
Four female Nigerian players are presently on the African circuit where they are playing ITF Futures alongside other players who were also in Nigeria for the recently-concluded Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis Championship.
If this trend can continue within and outside the country, it may not be too long before Nigeria starts producing top 200-300 players who have mostly played ITF Futures within the country all year round.