Nigeria Tennis Live

Marylove Edwards African Games

X-raying Nigeria’s Performance At The Accra African Games

Nigerian tennis lovers who followed Nigeria Tennis Live probably had a near on-site experience of what transpired at the 2023 African Games in Accra, but apparently not the details.

The African Games in Accra, Ghana, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the players, the coaching crew and the officials, because it will not likely repeat itself in a while.

Team tennis had a return of one silver and one bronze, which was one medal better than their last outing at the 2019 Games in Rabat, Morocco, where we our only tennis medal came from the ladies’ team event.

Eight players and two coaches represented Nigeria’s male and female teams in Ghana, in what was a sheer display of tennis superstars from the continent of Africa. The significance of this yea’s African Games – being a ticket to the Olympics – increased the level of the tennis event.

The Men’s Draw was 128 and two of our players reached the second round, one other reached the third round while one other reached the quarterfinal of the tournament.

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In the Women’s Singles, the 64-player draw ensured that some seeded players got byes in their first round matches, and one of Nigeria’s players enjoyed this privilege. So, one of our players lost in the first round, another reached the second round, another reached the third round and another reached the quarterfinals.

Wilson Igbinovia African Games

This article will torch the light on the individual performance of the Nigerian players and to help Nigerians understand better, what the players may have experienced.

Marylove Edwards:
Nigeria’s number one female tennis player had her baptism of fire, representing Nigeria at an international event at the senior level, and she didn’t leave Ghana without an impression.

Her first match at the tournament was against a budding youngster in what looked like a derby encounter as it was the unending Ghana versus Nigeria rivalry that took centre stage. Edwards was clearly the better player, but she was probably doing this for the first time, so – ‘stage fright’ possibly set in.

Marylove Edwards African Games

She won the match in two straight sets against the Ghanaian player, but it was one match she ought to have put to bed much earlier and even though Nigeria had the last laugh, it was a disappointing match by her standard.

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It is obvious that she needs more of such matches to show the rest of Africa, and the world at large how good she is at what she does, and that her status as Nigeria’s number one ranked player, is truly earned and well deserved.

Her second round encounter was up there among some of her not so impressive performances on court, even though the opposition was sterner, tougher and obviously more experienced.

Divine Nweke:
The Denmark-based player lost the first set to a South African, whom Nigeria Tennis Live gathered, had just reached the quarterfinal and second round of J200 and J300 events respectively before attending the African Games.

Dasam’s first round loss was much more an upset than it was a mere loss. She lost to an unseeded player despite being seeded 13 for the African Games and she was really sad after that one. But what did we learn from that match?

Divine Nweke African Games

First, the Ghanaians who stayed back to watch the late night match were full of admiration for how powerful Divine’s shots were. Her backhand and forehand carried firepower that was enough to move any good player on their day.

However, one consistent line on the lips of the tennis enthusiasts was the fact that she had no control over her ‘power’ and that she was inconsistent with the ‘good times’ she had on the court. And this is possibly something she has to work on in the coming months.

Despite her challenges in the individual event, though, the 20-year-old helped Nigeria reach the Women’s Doubles semis at the African Games.

Adesuwa Osabuohien
Watching Adesuwa play in the Singles event just showed what experience does to a player over the years. She may not have been as sharp as she used to be, but our Yankee Babe surely knows her onions and it was evident in her matches.

As one of the seeded players at the tournament, she got a bye in the first round, and in her second round match, even though she confessed to not playing well, she still found a way to register a win to push Nigeria’s chances of reaching the latter stage of the African Games.

Adesuwa Osabuohien African Games

However, in a match that showed the true colours of Ade Mama, she lost to the tournament’s number six seed. And despite the defeat, she seemed really upbeat and was proud of her performance on the court.

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One of the ways she eventually showed how much she adds to the team was when she played in the Women’s Doubles semis at the team event, and helped Nigeria qualify for the finals which Nigeria lost to a dangerous side.

Her influence on the team cannot be overemphasized as she drills words of encouragements into her colleagues’ ears. “Nothing to lose, experience to gain. Fight!” she’d always say.

Oyinlomo Quadre
The Florida International University (FIU) number one female Singles player was basically the glue that stuck the Nigerian female team together at the African Games.

Her sights were set on the ultimate target, to win gold for Nigeria, and potentially qualify for the Olympics, but she was pegged back when it appeared she was getting closer to the mark.

Apart from easily winning some of her matches despite being sick almost all week, our Nigerian star girl put up some performances that were grand slam-worthy, if we’re not being far reaching with our descriptions.

Oyinlomo Quadre African Games

The most intriguing of her comebacks was when she was 0-5 down in the first set of her quarterfinal match but still found a way to win the set. She ended that with a really beautiful smile but the crowd which had gathered around court two inside the Borteyman Sports Complex wouldn’t just stop hailing her.

She eventually lost the match in the most unbelievable way, the same fate which would eventually befall her at the semis of the team event, against a similar opponent.

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All credit to Quadre for the fights she put up on the courts, but she was a lot better than the performances suggested. And the difference between the Nigerian golden girl and her opponents was just the number of tournaments they had both played and the level of oppositions overcame.

Uche Oparaoji
Lefty was probably in another realm when he got on the synthetics to square up against his opponent in Nigeria’s second match of the African Games. The former Nigerian number one player was upbeat and looked really lively.

He was leading comfortably too so, the attention was shifted primarily to the other Nigerian on the court. However, he fell under pressure and could not sustain the pressure. He almost lost the second set, a situation which would have stretched him a bit.

Uche Oparaoji African Games

When he eventually saw off his Ivorian opponent in the second set, he heaved a sigh of relief, a sharp contrast to his body language when the match was ongoing.

Our Nigerian number three player lost in the second round of the Men’s Singles event and did not go far in the Doubles, but he was sure to speak of the lessons learnt at the Games, not the least the mentality of the players who played at the event.

For Nigeria to really do well at such tournaments, these lessons must be learnt, most times, in the hard way.

Abubakar Yusuf
For those who watched this match, this Mambilla Barracks Tennis Club star boy did not appear like one who was making his debut at such a big continental tournament.

Given that he was nervous as he strolled into the court for his match, but that was as far as that went. Abu went straight into the thick of action and won his first ever match for Nigeria at the African Games with zero pressure.

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His countenance when he saw that he was playing against the tournament’s number three player – who eventually reached the final – was one of someone who was fighting a losing battle.

Abubakar Yusuf African Games

But then, again, his performance against his gigantic opponent showed that he was made for the big stage, as he comfortably rallied against his opponents and forced him to make some errors during the tie.

After the match, the Nigerian youngster was very angry at himself, as he noted that he could have done better than he did because it was not a match he should have lost the way he did. Barring last minute changes or eventualities, he should become a mainstay in Nigeria’s Davis Cup team.

Wilson Igbinovia
One of the players Nigerians really banked on to deliver on the continental stage was Wilson Oswalele, aka, the stepper.

His steps were preserved for a bit because he got a bye in the first round of the draw, but the moment he stepped into the court, he ensured that he came out glowing. However, that did not last for too long.

One could say that with his dad’s presence on the court, the University of West Alabama player felt more at ease, as he constantly looked at his dad whenever he did well or whenever things didn’t go his way, but that was not enough to prevent him from losing his second match.

Wilson Igbinovia African Games

Everything he tried just wouldn’t go his way, and he became extremely frustrated especially when the umpires started making calls which appeared obviously wrong. He helped Nigeria reach the quarterfinal of the Doubles event, and would have taken Nigeria one step closer to the semis had he not sustained an injury to his shoulder.

Whilst Wilson remains a really good and solid player, one aspect of his game that needs some attention is his temperament on the court. If he is carefully guided, he will be on his way to becoming one of Nigeria’s best players, because he’s a really talented player.

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Christopher Bulus
This man proved to be Nigeria’s anchor player at the African Games in Ghana, and was only sent packing by a ‘Moroccan Mafia’ whom he stood a very good chance of defeating.

The US-based tennis player is Nigeria’s only player on the ATP rankings and he was clinical in both of his matches before meeting a stonewall in his Moroccan opponent in the quarterfinal of the Men’s Singles event.

After taking the first set comfortably, he fell short in the second and the final set ended pretty much the same way, and the 23-year-old player was effectively defeated. But he took it well.

Christopher Bulus African Games

Apart from being one of Nigeria’s most serious tennis player at the moment, he is currently on a tour of Europe, he is arguably the most experienced male player in the Nigerian team and he looks unfazed by challenges.

He also managed to reach the quarterfinals of the Doubles event in his first ever African Games appearance, an indication that he was not a walkover in Ghana.

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However, Nigerians will be excited to see more of their darling Boyo in bigger tournaments, winning laurels for the country and leading the country to Davis Cup promotion (to Group II), among other achievements.

Without being told, these players are likely to form the crux of the Nigerian teams to the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup tournaments holding in a few months.

Therefore, a lot of work must be consciously put in to ensure that they put up world-class, no holds-barred, top-of-the-table performances in all their matches.


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