The tournament director for the ITF World Tour events in Abuja, Ikani Agabi has affirmed the city’s readiness ahead of the three-week ITF tournaments, which will be held at the National Tennis Centre from April 8-28.
The events—the Tombim Abuja Open, Dayak Tennis Championships, and the GSL Open—will see players from all over the world storm Nigeria’s capital city in search for vital ATP and ITF ranking points and a total prize-money of $75,000. The tournament director says activities are already underway to make players have possibly the best time during the events.
“We have started preparing for the world coming to Abuja,” Agabi said. “We’re working so hard to make the place physically conducive for the players, both on the court and off the court. Very soon the courts will be painted, so everywhere will be sparkling new.
“We have a very efficient and hardworking Secretary-General,” he continued. “The players that have applied for visas to come to Nigeria have gotten responses as soon as they requested for it. This is due to the relentless effort of Mrs. Mariam Akande.”
In previous editions, Nigerian players, as a result of their ITF rankings, were given wildcards to enable them get in the main draws. However, that will change from this edition. The home players will now have to compete for all four wildcards in a bid to provide “more competition” for the Nigerian players. The wildcards won’t be contested for within Nigerian players alone, but with everyone who’s interested, including those from other countries.
“The organisers in the past used to reserve the wildcards exclusively for the Nigerian players,” the tournament director said. “Two were always given by discretion and the other two were played for. The sponsors later felt that it was better for every one if the wildcard be played for.
“The organisers have decided to throw it open, so that those who want to benefit from it can benefit appropriately. It is a way of providing more competition for the Nigerian players.
“It is open to everyone no matter where you come from.”