Photo: Isaac Okoroafor, representative of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, during the press briefing to officially announce the commencement of the CBN Junior Tennis Championship at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club in Onikan on Friday, 17 April, 2015. –
By Ebenezer Osamo –
Nigeria’s apex financial institution, Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has expressed excitement at the level of progress it has made since it began its sponsorship of junior tournaments in the country about nine years ago.
This was contained in a speech by Ibrahim Mu’azu, Director, Corporate Communications Department of CBN, who was represented by Isaac Okoroafor during the press briefing to officially announce the commencement of this year’s CBN Junior Tennis Circuit at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, LLTC, Onikan, Lagos on Friday, 17 April, 2015.
Okoroafor, who also expressed CBN’s delight at sponsoring the event every year since inception, also hailed the diligence of Godwin Kienka, whose International Tennis Academy, ITA, is the organiser of the annual event.
“I am pleased to inform you that the Junior Tennis Championship has become an important event of the International Tennis Academy since its inception in 2007.
“The management of the bank has noted with satisfaction, the steady development and success recorded in the Championship as players from the Junior Circuit have always represented Nigeria in the African Junior Championships and other international competitions.
“They are already challenging the senior players in the senior CBN Senior Tennis Open Championship. It is worthy to note that in the senior rankings of 2014, we had six players who have gone through this circuit in the top 12.
“The players are : Thomas Otu (No.3), Emmanuel Idoko (No. 4), Joseph Imeh (No. 6), Sylvester Emmanuel (No. 8), Michael Moses (No. 11) and Sunday Emmanuel (No. 12),” he stated.
The representative of CBN boss also hailed the contribution of the LLTC, principal host of the tournament, for its hospitality and relentless efforts in ensuring that Nigerian tennis is played with the best facilities available in the country.
While reaffirming its commitment to the continued sponsorship of the junior championship, CBN noted that it shall continue to do its best for the promotion and development of the racket game in Nigeria.
Speaking also during the event, first winner of the senior CBN Open, Kehinde Ajayi, stated that the dearth of junior tournaments in the country may have forced a relapse in the country’s current status on the continent.
The member of the Lagos State Tennis Association, LSTA, also hailed tennis clubs for allowing their ball-boys to use their courts for training, while advising others who are yet to allow that to make it a usual practice
“During our time, we could not really play tennis in the clubs because we were just ball-boys and no non-member was allowed in.
“I understand that it is no longer so these days. Therefore, I ask other clubs to ensure they make it a practice henceforth.
“I also appeal to sponsors to support more junior tournaments in the country, which is the only way we can come up the ranks in the sport. We need to groom future stars with those tournaments,” the tennis icon turned coach offered.