I Play For Nigeria To Make Mum Happy -McCloud

Photo: Angel McCloud (middle) shows off her NNPC/SNEPCO trophy after the 2014 tournament held in Lagos recently. –


By Ebenezer Osamo –

After defeating Mary-Love Edwards in her first NNPC/SNEPCo tournament in Nigeria, Angel McCloud looks like the next big thing in the country’s junior tennis.
The half-American youngster, who had only recently returned from Togo and Benin Republic where she helped Nigeria win seven gold medals to top the medals’ table, spoke extensively with eyeonthesports.com after the Junior Championship.
The fact that she defeated Edwards, who had hitherto dominated the tournament, made her victory sweeter, as she explained that the young player seemed to be the only “unbeatable” player around.
“She is double fisted, so that makes it really difficult to play her. She is also one of the best players around if not the best,” McCloud said of Edwards.
Despite her seemingly fair skin, the youngster had her fair share of challenges while growing in the game as she had her mother as her only companion and coach.
The Dubai-based player had the wall to play against at the start of her fledgling career.
She explained that, “I had the wall to train with when I started playing tennis at the age of seven because mum was not always available despite the fact that she was and is still my coach”.
Torn between her passion for tennis and dancing, the soft-spoken youngster disclosed that she had to eventually quit dancing for tennis.
“I cannot really explain why I quit tennis in the first place. I love dancing a lot, but tennis gives me more joy. So, I quickly drifted back to the game of tennis.
“The only thing that gives me joy now is just standing there on the court to play, whether I win or not. And since I continued steadily for the past four years, I have loved every moment on the court,” she narrated.
McCloud, 11, who has never been to America since she was born to her Nigerian mother, has travelled to several countries to play tennis but rates her recent trips to Togo and Benin (ITF Circuits) as the most challenging yet.
According to her, “I have even played and won tournaments in Dubai, but the level on display when we were in Togo and Benin was really high.
“The competition was very stiff and it was difficult to defeat the players who attended the Circuit because of their exposure.
“In Nigeria, the players are very strong but they need tournaments to get better. That little girl, Edwards, plays really well and if she can get someone to sponsor her further, she will be really difficult to defeat in the nearest future”.
While she would have preferred the American nationality, McCloud is still proud to represent Nigeria, especially because of her mum.
The player, whose role model is Maria Sharapova, emphatically stated that her mum, an indigene of Anambra State, Eastern Nigeria, is the only other “thing” she thinks about on court.
“When I am on the court playing, I think of how to win the game and also about my mum. She travels with me to play tournaments and because she is also my coach, I try not to disappoint her.
“I always try to win for her,” she told eyeonthesports.com in Lagos.
Of all the local Nigerian delicacies, McCloud would not trade her “Semo” with Okha soup for anything.
“My best Nigerian delicacy is Semo with Okha soup, I don’t joke with it,” she said with glee in her eyes.
And unlike most of her colleagues who aspire to hit high rankings in the sport, McCloud’s only dream in tennis is, “to be happy on the court whenever I am playing”.

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