Ahead of the 42nd Edition of the CBN Senior Open, Nigeria’s No. 1, Sylvester Emmanuel has expressed his readiness and how much he’s looking forward to the tournament after months of inactivity.
This is going to be his first tournament since the government okayed the resumption of sporting events in September. The champ said things have not been easy this year, with the Covid situation affecting everything. “A lot of things have been stuck for a long time that I couldn’t really do anything,” he said.
“Knowing that this is what you’ve done all your life and all of a sudden, you can’t do it anymore, not because of anything but the pandemic going on.”
The 22-year-old claimed the CBN title for the first time in 2018, defended it in 2019, and is confident he’s going to continue the streak this year. Winning the CBN Senior Open this year will make him only the 3rd male player to win the title three years in a row.
“I am motivated, I am ready, I am happy, I am in the right state of mind, I am healthy and looking forward to the tournament so I can do well,” he assured, when asked how motivated he is to join David Imonite and Sunday Maku in holding that record.
Speaking of who he considers a greater rival between 2017 runner-up, Joseph Imeh and 6-time champion Abdulmumin Babalola, who Sylvester has defeated twice in the finals, he said “Obviously Joseph Imeh, but both of them are difficult to play against because of their different game styles.”
Emmanuel also thinks to improve the state of Tennis in Nigeria, more tournaments have to be created so players can have the opportunity to compete regularly.
“Like I always say and will keep saying it, the only way things can get better in Nigeria is just to organize at least 12-15 tournaments for the players to play, you’d see a lot of people picking interest in wanting to play the game.”
“When tournaments are few, the motivation levels will also be low. Imagine if we have 15 tournaments, every player will know that they have the opportunities to try regularly.”
“The amount of talented players we have in this country, if we can have these tournaments and all the necessary things a player should have, you’d see a lot of Nigerians out there doing well for themselves.”
While the country was on lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sylvester said he kept himself busy by watching more Tennis. “I was watching more of Tennis and I was playing on the wall at home. At some point, I got very bored because there’s nothing new to do since I’ve done almost everything possible.”
“I was also watching clips of my favorite player, which is Novak Djokovic to learn one or two things, I was also reading books,” he added.
Now that the CBN Senior Open is back, Sylvester will finally get to play. He just might be on the path to winning the title three years in a row, and he’s sure he’s ready for that challenge.