When the 13th edition of the Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis Championship serves off on Sunday, 13 October at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan, Lagos, so many things will be at stake for Nigerian players.

The fact that no Nigerian player has ever won the championship when it became an International Tennis Federation, ITF-rated pro-circuit will add additional pressure to the players, but they have vowed to ensure that this year’s tourney will be memorable one in terms of performance.

•Shehu Lawal in action at the 12th Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis. Photo: Emmanuel Osodi

•Shehu Lawal in action at the 12th Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis. Photo: Emmanuel Osodi

The camping of the players prior to the Etisalat Nigeria and FCMB sponsored tournament is also expected to give the players an edge when they face their more fancied foreign counterparts.

Veteran player and former Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Open champion, Shehu Lawal, believes that he has been training hard for sometime and therefore has a chance of going all the way when action begins.

The vastly traveled Lawal, who confided in P.M.NEWS Tennis Special, remained upbeat about his chances of doing well despite the fact that he’s struggling with match fitness.

“I’ve been practising really hard for some time now and with the level I’ve attained, I believe that I can go all the way against any opponent.

“I still have to travel to Kaduna to work on my fitness and acclimatise because I can understand that Lagos is hot presently but it won’t stop me from doing well when the tournament starts proper,” he said from his training base in Taraba State.

•Chady Idoko

•Chady Idoko

The chances of Nigerian players performing better than previous years, especially in the Men’s category, looks brighter this year as last edition’s best performer, Henry Atseye, will be coming into the championship from another ITF Futures in Kigali, Rwanda, an indication that he would be match fit when he arrives.

According to one of the players’ coaches, Benson Ishicheli, “Atseye is not in camp presently as well as Sanni Adamu because they are in Rwanda, playing another Futures.

“I learnt they’ve been doing well and if they can bring that form and fitness into this year’s Governor’s Cup, they can surpass previous achievements of the country’s players in the circuit.”

Another player who expressed the local players’ readiness to make Nigeria proud during the two-weeks tourney was Clifford Enosoregbe.

•Atseye

•Atseye

The 2013 CBN Open Men’s Singles finalist explained that he has been working really hard to ensure that he performs better this year.

He said: “I can always say that I’ve been training as I ought to for this tournament but you can’t know how good or bad I am until the real action starts.

“So, let’s see what the championship will breed but I hope to do well and better my performance this time.”

While the players are optimistic, the Nigeria Tennis Federation, NTF and the Local Organising Committee, LOC, also hope that the players will have a good outing this year as the NTF President, Engr. Sani Ndanusa, points out.

“We have presented a platform for the players and also tried to prepare them in every possible way so we expect them to make us proud by doing better than previous years,” he said.

—Damilare Okunola