A one time top tennis player in the country, Nnamdi Ehirim has called on stakeholders in Nigeria’s tennis to come together and chart a new course for the rebirth of the game.
Ehirim who grew up as a budding tennis star to see the likes of Nduka Odizor, David Imonite, Yakubu Suleiman, Sadiq Abdullahi take the international tennis scene by storm wondered why the game has gone down so drastically in Nigeria that the country could hardly win a continental tournament at the senior level.
Speaking from his US base at the weekend, Ehirim who organised a week-long tennis clinic for both junior and senior tennis players in Enugu last December said the task to revive the dwindling fortunes of the sport in the country should be a collective affair.
“It is beyond an individual,” Ehirim, who is a tennis coach at the Centercourt Club and Sport in the USA said, adding, “the problem calls for collective effort. Everybody has to rally round and contribute his quota to the common cause. It is possible.”
The former tennis whiz-kid who rose to represent Nigeria in the Davis Cup bought tennis rackets and balls for kid tennis players who used them during the programme in December.
He decried the high cost of tennis equipment in the country and observed that it had become harder for players to buy such equipment.
“It has become an imperative that these young players need help. There are no tournaments, no sponsorship of any kind. How do they survive?” he asked, adding, “the situation calls for those that have anything to do with tennis to pull resources together in order to save the sport from extinction in the country.”
To overcome the near hopeless situation, Ehirim is suggesting that big companies in Nigeria be made to contribute a fraction of their profits to a special fund that would be used to purchase tennis equipment for distribution to state tennis associations.
He said, “In every six months, equipment could be supplied to one or two states. Before long, the equipment will go round and kids who hitherto had no access to standard equipment will start playing tennis as it should be played, with the best equipment”.