FAAN Junior Tennis championship ends in Lagos


The 8th edition of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Junior Tennis championship finals sponsored by the FAAN Lawn Tennis Club has ended in Lagos with the winners in different categories going home with different prizes.

The event which took place on Saturday at the FAAN Lawn Tennis Club court located at FAAN Staff Quarters in Ikeja, Lagos featured Under 12 boys and girls, Under 14 boys and girls as well Under 16 boys and girls championship finals.

Ndidi Osaji beats Vanessa Inyang 4-1, 1-4, 15-13 to emerge the winner of U-12 girls championship while Sofia Agbabiaka beats Osahirun Osas 6-1, 1-6, 7-1 to emerge the winner of the U-16 girls championship.

While Kehinde Lawal beats Awal Kaji 6-3, 6-4 in two straight set to emerge the winner of the U-14 boys championship, Osas Osahirun, this time beat Ndidi Osaji 6-3, 5-7, 8-6 in a tie break to emerge the winner of U-14 girls championship.

Speaking during the event, the Chairman, Lagos State Tennis Association, Mr. Tokunbo Agoro observed that the tournament fall exactly into what the Lagos State Government has been preaching, development of youth tennis adding that with that kind of tournament, it was a very good breeding ground to see talents.

“I am quite pleased with what I have seen so far. As I said earlier, it is a good development for tennis going forward. So, we need more of these tournaments so that the more the players play, the more the athletes get involved, the more talents that will be discovered. So, we are pleased with what we have seen so far. The more of this kind of tournament that we have the better for the development of the youths and seeking of talents and that is exactly what the Lagos State Association especially tennis is all about”, he said.

While pointing out that the association’s programme involved tournaments in schools and other tournaments which according to him, was the only way which they could keep players going, he maintained that the only way they could seek talents was by organizing as many tournaments as possible which he said that they also had on their programme.

Agoro disclosed that while the Youth Tournament in Ilorin later this year required only four players from the state, he had discovered two of the players that would be representing Lagos State in the tourney at the event.

Earlier in his speech, the Vice Chairman, FAAN Lawn Tennis Club, Mr. Kingsley Nwokoma stated that although everybody was playing to win, it was not all about winning, as their goal was to have more of the tournament.

He noted that for one to be a great tennis player, such a person had to go through a process adding that all the big names like the Selinas, the Osakas even the Djokovics, the Nadals, the Federers, all started at the junior cadre.

“You need to see the documentaries, parents taking them when they were three, four, five and so on. So, it is a progression and that is what we are trying to build in the country, that progression when we have Under 6, Under 10, Under 12, Under 14, they will be moving from one progression to the other. And hopefully, like I say all the time, what we need is more competitions and for these kids to compete with their counterparts in Africa, the ITF Tennis tournament in Egypt, in Morocco even around the West African Coast; Togo, Benin and we must find a way to juxtapose our curriculum with sports.

On the reaction of the players when they lose in a competition, he said, “That is sportsmanship for you, I tell the kids that you win some, you lose some. Even in the bigger tournaments, you have seen Naomi Osaka cry, we have seen the great Roger Federer cry, we have seen everybody cry. You go back to look at those tapes to see where you made some mistakes, you correct, you come back. For them, tennis is life; we breathe, eat, and talk tennis.

“So, I tell the kids, same way, play the tennis, keep playing, it is a process and hopefully, one day… We have one of our players, Mary Love, she played in the first and second editions of this tournament but she is in Academy in the US and we have couple of other players who have played in this tournament who are in different Academies in the US. So, this is what we want and hopefully, it won’t be only Nduka Odizor who has gotten into the grand slam tournament, we want to see more of our Nigerians getting in there because we can do it. You can see around here, we have talents. It is just to nourish these talents, push these talents and make them champions.”

While pointing out that the 9th edition which hopefully was going to be post Covid, would be a bang, the Vice Chairman said, “You know what Covid has done to all sectors of life including sports. So, the 9th edition, we will have more talents, we are going to be bigger, we are going to into other states. We are going to go to the North, we are going to go to the South, we are going to go to the East. So, it is going to be more like a whole country kind of tournament.

“Then, the 10th edition will be the big one, we are even thinking of getting players from the West African countries; Mali, Togo, Benin so that they start getting that international feel. When you are playing with somebody from Lome, that means you are playing for your country. So, that journey, I am sure we are going to get there. So, far, I guess we are doing good, hopefully, we will get champions out of all these kids.”

Speaking to our correspondent shortly after the games, the winner of U-16 girls tournament, Sofia Agbabiaka while describing her opponent, Osahirun Osas as very difficult however noted that she felt so happy winning the game this year as according to her, “last two years, I came here; I lost at the first round. So, I told myself last year that I was coming to win the tournament but we did not play last year. However, this year, I told myself that I am going to fight and win; I don’t want to lose at the first round or at the semi-final.”

Agbabiaka who felt so excited over her victory maintained that going forward; she would like to play the ITF tournament.

“I always tell people I want to top Under 16 before I am 16 because I am 15 this year. I want to start playing ITF Togo, Ghana, I want to start going for challenger”, she added.

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