Nigeria commenced hostilities with other African countries as the 1st ITF/CAT 12 and Under African Junior Championship served off yesterday in Casablanca, Morocco. Nigerian players were scheduled to confront the ITF team late yesterday in their opening round-robin matches.
The Nigerian team, formed by Iye Onoja, Oiza Yakubu and Serena Teluwo, sealed their places in the week-long team event at the West and Central African qualifiers in Lagos in April alongside Benin Republic.
The team departed Lagos via Maroc Air at the weekend and coach Margaret Olagundoye expressed confidence that the girls will do well at the event which will feature 10 nations.
“This is a new concept from the ITF designed at fast-tracking the young talents. Our team is very young but we are hopeful of having a very good outing,” said Olagundoye, a former Nigeria international.
While Onoja and Yakubu have been under vigorous training, the tournament will serve as a big test for Teluwo who as part of preparation went on a three-week training programme in London last month.
The 10-year-old daughter of former VIP of Lagos FC owner, Adewale Teluwo also recently in Lagos had a two-week training with top Spanish junior coach, Jose Velasco, who is now the head coach of Saudi Arabia junior tennis, as part of build up for her first international tournament outside Nigeria.
In a related development, Nigeria will also be striving to continue her impressive showings in junior tennis as a number of the country’s junior players battle at the ITF 18 and Under Circuit in Benin Republic and Togo which also served off yesterday.
The tournament, which will be in three legs will see youngster Oyinlomo Barakat Quadri aiming a repeat of her record-setting fest last year, where she won all the legs at the U16 level catapulting her to the top 400 in the junior rankings having been previously unranked.
Christopher Bulus, Michael Osewa, Martins Abamu, Michael Ayoola (boys), Angel McLeod and Adetayo Adetunji, a quarter finalist at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas are the other Nigerians at the tournament which will also attract players from the US, Europe and Asia.