Nigerian tennis faced stern test as the local players debut in the Confederation ofÂ Africa Tennis (CAT) Africa Cup of Nations, which served off yesterday in Tripoli,Â Libya.
Leading Team Nigeria in the menâ€™s category is Abdulmumini Babalola, who must putÂ behind him his poor outing in the 10th Governorâ€™s Cup Lagos Tennis Championship. HeÂ is joined by the pair of Candy Idoko and Sunday Emmanuel, who equally had badÂ outings in the Governorâ€™s Cup held last month in Lagos State, Nigeria.
The women are led byÂ number one female player in Nigeria, Fatimah Abinu, who isÂ supported by Blessing Samuel, Christy Agugbom and Sarah Adegoke.
Though these players failed to represent Nigeria well at the Governorâ€™s Cup, ViceÂ President of Nigeria Tennis Federation, NTF, Yemi Owoseni, is optimistic that theÂ players will make the country proud at the continental tourney, which ends on 14Â November.
According to Owoseni, who spoke to Tennis Special on telephoneÂ from his base in AdoÂ Ekiti in Ekiti State yesterday, â€œour players and their coach, Rotimi Akinloye leftÂ the country on Sunday night aboard Air Afrique to Tripoli. I have no doubt that theÂ players will not disappoint us in the continental tourney.
â€œThe players might have performed badly at the 10th Governorâ€™s Cup in Lagos, but theÂ federation saw the tourney as a training ground for our players to be in good shapeÂ for the Nations Cup.â€
Owoseni also noted that the competitionâ€™s prize money will motivate the players toÂ giveÂ their best. â€œI think the money to be won in the championship will also boostÂ the morale of the players, though it is the federation that will foot the bill inÂ the competition.â€
Tennis Special gathered that the sum ofÂ Â $2,400 is at stakefor the winners of theÂ singles event with the first runner-up, second runner-up and fourth positionÂ pocketing $1,200, $750 and $650 respectively.
For the team event, the winning team will go home with $3,200; $1,600 for theÂ runners-up and $800Â for the participating countries which include the hosts Libya,Â Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon.
Team Ghana are made up of Raymond Hayford, Robert Kpodo and Jeff Bukari. They wereÂ ledn to LibyaÂ by Coach Henry Quansah.
Tunisia and Morocco are the defending champions for the singles and team eventsÂ respectively.