Tennis is a sport that has enjoyed some considerable media attention in recent times. Before now, the sport lacked the followership and glamour associated with football and other popular athletic activities. This is because many people play tennis for fun or indoors and never thought of it as something that could evolve into championships and competitions.
Another contributing factor to its low patronage in this part of the world is the lack of facilities and sponsorships. Many news outlets rarely talk about tennis matches in Africa or create a dedicated column for match results.
However, with the change in governmental policy and the arrival of sponsors, we now have dedicated news columns for local and national contests.
Even though the sport lacked the rapid transformation that we see abroad, the country now has myriads of contests today and has produced several stars in the process.
These stars have made the news column home and abroad and have shown the world their skills despite the dearth of training facilities and shortage of challenges.
In developed countries, their athletes have more exposure, challenges, and opportunities to train with the best facilities. These are some of the reasons why the best stars of all time come from these places. This article intends to discuss the history of the sport, competitions, and the best athletes to grace the courts.
Upcoming Tennis Tournaments in Nigeria
Nigerian tennis, though not as popular as football, is blessed with a myriad of competitions. One of the most celebrated junior tennis tournaments among sports lovers is the National Youth Games.
As part of the policy to enhance sports development, the government holds an annual youth game to boost and build talents across the Federation. The next edition will come up around October in Kwara state.
Another Junior tennis tournament is the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) junior open. The contest was held in Lagos last year despite the pandemic. It was a fiercely and keenly contested cup as many youngsters across the Federation battled for supremacy.
The ITF, an international federation that oversees and regulates the game, applauded CBN for their contribution to the sport's development.
We also have the Kaduna clay-court contests organized for youngsters residing in the northwestern states. The contest is held in honour of the late Isa Adewale, who was a mentor to many champions and Olympic contestants. Another upcoming Nigeria tennis tournament for youngsters is the SNEPCO contest.
The last edition was held in Lagos, and the organizers hope to continue raising awareness of the sport among teenagers. The zenith bank contest is another local contest for young players that aims to groom the next generation of stars.
For senior tournaments, we have the CBN senior open contest. The last edition was held in Abuja last year, and many defending champions graced the event. The event has the men and women singles category as well as the doubles.
Other notable senior competitions include the National Sports Festival, Vemp contest, Lagos tennis tournament, Abuja tennis tournament, and kano tennis tournament.
Apart from the local Lagos tennis, Abuja, and kano tennis tournaments, the Rainoil Clay Court contest is a household competition that comes up at regular intervals for professionals.
As part of upcoming tennis tournaments in Nigeria, we have some international tournaments such as the ITF juniors. The contest aims to promote the game among young people, and the player with the highest number of wins gets ranked on the table above others. The recent list has about nineteen Nigerians.
Other examples of international competitions are the Olympics and the Lagos open. Many Africans have successfully participated in previous Olympic games such as football, swimming, and other sports. However, the percentage of medalists is still low when compared to other continents.
Apart from the designated junior and senior contests, we have the NCC tennis league that cuts across many categories of players and teams. Recently, the NCC tennis league had big sponsors that aim to push its image beyond all borders.
Before now, the league's popularity and remuneration were very low as a result of low patronage and followership. Now, players that lead the rankings will cart away millions of naira as prizes.
The History of Wimbledon
Wimbledon started as a small-time contest some centuries ago. Since then, the competition has seen a rapid transformation that has made it comparable to the world cup. First of all, the organizers expanded the categories of athletes who could participate in the game and revisited the modalities for choosing a champion.
Some years after its inception, the traditional courts were renovated to have a retractable roof. This improvement made it possible to play matches in the sun and during rain.
Many Africans and Nigerians have made attempts at the prestigious award throughout the contest's history, but a large percentage of wins continually go to the game's greats.
You can learn more about the history of Wimbledon championships in our other article.
The Best Tennis Players of All Time
The famous "big three" fills the list as the greatest stars of the game for the male category. In no particular order, the first is Roger Federer. The star man has shared many finals and titles with his contemporaries. He is known to play with a simple and unique style that makes many new athletes admire him.
The legend has up to twenty Wimbledon championships to his name and still has some years left in his career. The second name is Rafael Nadal. Rafael is known as a more aggressive legend that has dominated the clay court on many occasions.
The Spaniard has up to twenty Wimbledon titles and many accolades to his name at home and abroad. New and upcoming players who intend to play with a more aggressive style can take a cue from his matches and win. The third member of the big three who is also the current world number one is Novak Djokovic.
The legend shares an equal number of titles and wins with other great athletes that makes him worthy of the position he occupies. Off the clay, the star man has several charity works and entertainment deals.
For the females, the Williams sisters stand out as the greatest of all time. The younger among the duo, Serena Williams, started playing the game at a tender age and has several accolades and titles than any other female in her category.
Her sister Venus, shares some similarities with her in playing style and prowess. She has some titles and major wins in her cabinet and still plays the game to this day.
These are some of the best tennis players of all time!
The Best Tennis Players in Nigeria
Undoubtedly, Nigerian tennis is blessed with men and women that have graced the sport with their impeccable skills and talent. In the male category, we have players like Nduka Odizor, who enjoyed an all-time high ATP ranking of 52.
He represented the country in the Olympics and even though he crashed out in the early rounds, his name still made the news on several occasions, especially in the eighties.
Another contemporary of Nduka was Tony Mmoh. He also represented the country in the 1988 Olympics. The Enugu-born star is regarded as one of the best Nigerian tennis players to walk the courts in his time.
More recently, we have the under 13 ITF star, Musa Mustapha. The teenage star who participated in the Lagos open three years ago already has his sights set for greater things. He won the ITF junior in 2019 and is not slowing down for future contests.
Among the females, the country is also blessed with players like Oyinlomo Quadre. As of August 2021, she is currently the best female tennis player in her category.
At eighteen, she has won many local, national, and African tournaments. She started her career at four under her sister's guidance.
Even though Quadre started playing on nonstandard courts, she developed rapidly when her dad got membership in the Lagos lawn tennis club.
Off the court, Oyinlomo Quadre has a foundation she established together with her sister to support ball boys that can't afford basic life needs. Her role models include Federer and Serena Williams. She hopes to surpass the number of grand slam wins owned by the duo one day.
Another wonder kid among the females is Marylove Edwards. As of August 2021, she is third on the women's singles rankings and seventh on the doubles. Like her contemporary, she also started playing at four and has won several local and international cups.
The list of wonderful stars of this sport wouldn't be complete without mentioning Sarah Adegoke. She is famous for winning the Rainoil contest and other local contests.
She was brought up and trained by her dad, who had little knowledge about the game. Over time, she developed rapidly and currently ranked third in the women's double category.
Other worthy mentions include Blessing Samuel, the talented star with a career-high of 842. We also have Henry Atseye, the controversial athlete known for his triumphs at the Rainoil contest.
The platform that connects tutors and students