The ITF representative for the AJC qualifying event in Cotonou, Illou Lonfo, talks about the idea behind the 2-day training camp and lauds the Nigerian team ahead of the tournament.

Participating teams for the event arrived in Cotonou on Sunday and began a 2-day training camp, the first of its kind, in the West African city in readiness for the tournament.

Lonfo, who was once a coach at an ITF centre in Senegal and was also in charge of the ITF Performance Centre in Morocco, disclosed that the training camp was set up to get an idea of how the juniors train in their home country and also create an avenue for interaction between coaches.

“The idea was to see how the kids train in their country,” Lonfo said. “The technical aspect and tactical aspect with the kids and the fitness levels. It is also important for all coaches to share their experiences in this kind of situation.”

The 45-year-old Ivorian also praised the Nigerian players in Cotonou, noting that with these crops of players, the outlook for Nigerian tennis is positive.

“I see the kids have good level. I’m impressed about these boys,” he said. “I think if they continue this way, they can have a good result in the future with these kids. I’m sure there are more kids in Nigeria because they use to have potentials and hope Nigeria will come back strong very soon.”

Against West and Central Africa, North Africa has been the more dominant region in recent times. Lonfo thinks the problem with West/Central African tennis stems from a lack of competition and stressed about the need for a high performance centre in the West African region.

“I think our problem also is the competition,” Lonfo stressed. “The more competition you have, the more you can develop your kids. But if its only training, training there will be problem. We have to fight to bring some competitions to our countries and we will develop our players.”

“The players have the abilities, so I’d discuss with the coaches and we try to have some solutions. Our leaders in this region have to also think about bringing an High Performance Centre here too.”