• Kienka canvasses investment in players to hit ATP, WTA Circuit
Murewa Egbeyemi and Seun Ogunsakin, yesterday, retained their titles at the 16th CBN Junior Tennis Championship, which came to a thrilling end at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club (LLTC), Onikan.
In the Boys 10 & under category, defending champion, Egbeyemi showed exceptional determination to overcome Dubem Amasiani, who won the last ITA Junior Circuit tournament in Port Harcourt, which Egbeyemi did not attend. It was a dogfight that lasted over an hour with some points going up to 30 solid rallies. But, once Egbeyemi broke for a 4-3 lead, he consolidated and held firm to retain his title 9-5.
It was a similar close and fiery contest between Nigeria’s two leading 16 & under players – Ogunsakin and Ganiyu Mubarak. Mubaral led 5 – 3 and then 6-5 before Ogunsakin, popularly called Nadal by his fans, surged through to win four straight games from an obviously tiring opponent to retain his title.
The Girls’ events also recorded some upsets and interesting duels.
Jasmine Benjamin from the Apapa Club program followed through her semifinal upset of defending champion Khadijat Mohammed with a convincing 9-4 victory over second seed Success Ogunjobi from Ekiti. Ndifreke Benjamin, another player from the Apapa Club, won the Girls 12 & under beating Ndidi Osaji from the LLTC.
The host club also won the Girls 10 & under through Mofi Atilola, who beat Favour Okon-James from Akwa Ibom 9-3.
The boys 12 title was won by Seyi Ogunsakin from Ekiti, who defeated Husseini Ayoola from Ogun State 9-3, while the boys 14 title went to Joel Benjamin from Apapa Club who outplayed Joseph Ogunyemi from the LLTC 9-5.
Speaking at the end of the competition, director of the International Tennis Academy (ITA), organisers of the circuit, Godwin Kienka, described the standard of the top juniors in all categories as good as obtainable anywhere in the world, adding, however, “What we need now is to find investors who will put some funds behind players like Ogunsakin, Mubarak, Ohunene Yakubu and Bright Emmanuel, who in my estimation, are capable of being top 30 players in the world.
“Players ranked in the top 30 in the world, playing doubles and singles” Kienka continued, “are guaranteed between five and $10 million in career prize money over a 10-year career span. It will surely be a worthwhile investment for any sports loving moneybag.”
He said interested investors can help to send the players to an academy in Spain, France or the U.S. for a couple of years during which they would play qualifiers and once they have their skills and confidence grounded, get them a team of trainers and coaches to run their professional career.