The President of Africa Wheelchair Tennis, Engr. Sani Ndanusa speaks about wheelchair tennis in Nigeria and Africa, and plans to reposition the game.
Wheelchair tennis is a growing sport in Africa. On the continent, the wheelchair players have the opportunity to strut their stuff in three different ITF tournaments—the Nairobi Open in Kenya, which served as a qualifying event for the World Team Cup this year, the Puma Engineering Wheelchair Open, which began in Nigeria, last year, and the ITF Dan Devan Wheelchair Tennis Futures Tournament in Ghana, which also kicked off in 2018.
Engr. Ndanusa, while acknowledging that there has been a growth, is looking to hit new heights.
“The wheelchair tennis is growing,” said Ndanusa, the former President of the Nigeria Tennis Federation. “But the growth is rather slow, but we are working very hard.
In Nigeria, the Vemp Open—one of the national tournaments— has introduced the wheelchair category, which will debut in July. It will be the second wheelchair tennis national event after the CBN Open, which had its inaugural wheelchair tennis edition in 2013. The country also boasts some of the best wheelchair tennis players in Africa, with Alex Adewale and Wasiu Yusuf, as well as Kafayat Omisore among notable names.
“We have one of the biggest wheelchair tennis teams in Africa, they are very well-tested,” Ndanusa stated. “We have an opportunity from CBN, and other sponsors to bring in some tournaments. Last year we had futures, one here in Nigeria [Puma Engineering Open] and the next one in Ghana [ITF Dan Devan Wheelchair tournament].”
One major project that’s underway, according to the Former Minister of Youth and Sports in Nigeria, is about creating awareness about the game, as most people don’t think it’s possible to play the game on a wheelchair.
“There’s more work to be done in the wheelchair in terms of publicity and knowledge about the sport,” he noted. “Still not many people know that you can play tennis on wheelchair, so that alone too is a big project that we are carrying.
“I’m on the board of the ITF Wheelchair Tennis and I’m also the African President of the Wheelchair Tennis. I’m working very hard to see that wheelchair tennis is positioned properly.”