NIGERIAN PLAYERS CRUISE TO SECOND ROUND
NIGERIAN players began their campaigns at the 34th African Junior Tennis Championship (AJC) warm-up on the right footing, with all of them advancing to the second round of the singles event holding at the at the National Tennis Centre in Gaborone, Botswana.
Aside Samuel Omoile, who got a bye to the next round, the other five players tasted action in their various divisions and succeeded. The six-man team of four boys and two girls left Nigeria aboard South African Airlines on Sunday. The handler, national junior coach Mohammed Ubale, told The Guardian before their departure that he was confident the team would do well at the championship.
'We have prepared well for the championship and this was evident in the finals of this year's NNPC/Chevron Junior Masters where two of the players in the team played in the U-18 final,' he said. 'I hope we will be able to replicate the feat in Botswana. We have got all the necessary support we needed to succeed and my prayer is that God should crown all our efforts (with success).'
Ubale, who led the team to victory at the West/Central African qualifiers in Ghana, hinges the team's confidence on the present form of the players, which he said would aid their outing against players from other nations, especially the North Africans.
The players representing Nigeria at the AJC are Samuel Omoile, Umaru Balami, Emmanuel Idoko, Joseph Imeh, Sarah Adegoke and Afolarin Akosile. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) moved the tourney to Botswana from Egypt following the political crisis that rocked the North African nation recently.
At the Ghana qualifiers, the Nigerian team was the overall champion and was also adjudged the best tennis-playing nation at the two-legged ITF Circuit in Togo, where it won six gold, three silver and one bronze medal to become the overall champion.
Over 20 countries from the continent will feature in the tourney holding at the National Tennis Centre in Gaborone.