By Ebenezer Osamo –
Despite clamouring for regular tennis actions in the country, top players are planning to boycott the inaugural edition of the Ekiti State Governor’s All Nigeria Tennis Open.
Those who spoke with our correspondent, lamented the fact that the prize money is not encouraging and that there is no provision for accommodation and feeding for them.
According to Sanni Adamu, the players want tournaments where they can get better, make money as well as pay their bills.
He stated that the players are not happy having to pay their transport to Ekiti and feed themselves for a tournament which is rewarding N100,000 for the eventual winner.
“How am I even sure that I will win the tournament? That we need regular tournaments does not mean that we should be turned into slaves overnight.
“Personally, I am not attending that tournament in Ekiti because I cannot spend a lot of money for such a meagre prize money. We only play tennis out of passion these days and not the benefits which shouldn’t be”, Adamu lamented.
Speaking in the same vein is Bolaji Olawepo, who noted that the players would have preferred the tournament not being a point-awarding tourney since the prize money is not totally encouraging.
Olawepo stated that, “if the tournament gives out points, it might be disastrous for some of us because lower ranked players might overtake us.
“We are appealing to the Federation to allow younger players attend since the money might not be enough to cater for our needs. If I lose out in the first round, I shall get a paltry N8,000. How do I cope with that?”
Also lamenting the conditions for the tournament, Nigeria’s number one female tennis player, Blessing Samuel noted that she could not guarantee attending the tournament.
She told eyeonthesports.com that there are certain conditions which should be met which she does not think will be in place.
For Ronke Akingbade, Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN 2013 Women’s Singles winner, she would be attending the event only if it would be point awarding.
She said: “I will attend, not because of the prize money but for the points that will be awarded. If the organisers decide not to award points, I shall not attend”.
While expressing his displeasure at players’ disposition towards the tournament, Chairman, Local Organising Committee, LOC, Mr. Yemi Owoseni, stated that the players are not encouraging the Federation in anyway.
The former Vice President of the Nigeria Tennis Federation, NTF, explained that the players have a tournament and should be grateful to the sponsors, not showing attitudes of different sorts.
“The players almost showed a very silly attitude at this year’s CBN Open which we had to cover up because we do not want the tournament to stop.
“We ran around to get sponsors which wasn’t our responsibility, yet the players are not appreciating our efforts”, he offered.
Mr. Owoseni also angrily said that: “the event shall be point awarding and nobody is being cajoled to attend.
“If they want to attend, fine. And if they have decided not to attend, the tournament shall still hold. The prize money is N100,000 for the men and N75,000 for the women.
“It is the first time we are organising it and we need to see how it works. As we speak, we are yet to get the fund, yet the players are planning a boycott”.
The Ekiti Open is slated for 1-8 June at the tennis courts of the Trade Fair Complex, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State.