Nigerian tennis faced stern test as the local players debut in the Confederation of  Africa Tennis (CAT) Africa Cup of Nations, which served off yesterday in Tripoli,  Libya.

Leading Team Nigeria in the men’s category is Abdulmumini Babalola, who must put  behind him his poor outing in the 10th Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis Championship. He  is joined by the pair of Candy Idoko and Sunday Emmanuel, who equally had bad  outings in the Governor’s Cup held last month in Lagos State, Nigeria.

The women are led by  number one female player in Nigeria, Fatimah Abinu, who is  supported by Blessing Samuel, Christy Agugbom and Sarah Adegoke.

Though these players failed to represent Nigeria well at the Governor’s Cup, Vice  President of Nigeria Tennis Federation, NTF, Yemi Owoseni, is optimistic that the  players will make the country proud at the continental tourney, which ends on 14  November.

According to Owoseni, who spoke to Tennis Special on telephone  from his base in Ado  Ekiti in Ekiti State yesterday, “our players and their coach, Rotimi Akinloye left  the country on Sunday night aboard Air Afrique to Tripoli. I have no doubt that the  players will not disappoint us in the continental tourney.

“The players might have performed badly at the 10th Governor’s Cup in Lagos, but the  federation saw the tourney as a training ground for our players to be in good shape  for the Nations Cup.”

Owoseni also noted that the competition’s prize money will motivate the players to  give  their best. “I think the money to be won in the championship will also boost  the morale of the players, though it is the federation that will foot the bill in  the competition.”

Tennis Special gathered that the sum of   $2,400 is at stakefor the winners of the  singles event with the first runner-up, second runner-up and fourth position  pocketing $1,200, $750 and $650 respectively.

For the team event, the winning team will go home with $3,200; $1,600 for the  runners-up and $800  for the participating countries which include the hosts Libya,  Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon.

Team Ghana are made up of Raymond Hayford, Robert Kpodo and Jeff Bukari. They were  ledn to Libya  by Coach Henry Quansah.

Tunisia and Morocco are the defending champions for the singles and team events  respectively.

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