Following the just-concluded ITF Grade 5 tournament in Abuja, the NTF International Junior Championships, we take a look at some talking points from the two-week hard-court event, which took place at the National Tennis Centre, Abuja.
Oyinlomo Quadre is back in the top-200
Currently Nigeria’s top junior player, Oyinlomo Quadre has moved back into the top-200 on the ITF World Junior Rankings to be ranked at 195, following her stunning run in the second leg of the J5 Abuja event. Her latest move makes her the 4th-highest ranked African behind Burundi’s Sada Nahimana (ranked 17), Morocco’s Yasmine Kabbaj (ranked 155) and Aisha Niyonkuru, also of Burundi (ranked 188).
However, if Quadre, who before the J5 Abuja event had won 7 singles and 4 doubles titles on the ITF Junior Circuit, eventually competes at the Orange Bowl, USA, which will serve off on 9 December, she could become Africa’s No. 2 before the end of the year, and most likely start the 2020 season as No. 1 in Africa, as 2019 is the last year for Sada Nahimana as a junior, with the Burundian turning 19 in 2020.
Marylove Edwards hits new mark
14-year-old Marylove Edwards, who returned from the IMG Academy, Florida, in the summer, claimed her 1st singles title and also 2 doubles titles in just her 7th tournament since her return from the Academy.
The Nigerian put together impressive performances during the two-week J5 Abuja tournament to reach the final of the first and second legs, defeating Blanche Minet of Ivory Coast in the first, before losing to her compatriot, Oyinlomo Quadre in the second- her only match loss the entire fortnight.
Abayomi Philips continues to rise
Ranked 584 before the J5 Abuja event, Abayomi Philips has moved up 108 places on the ITF World Junior Rankings to be ranked 476th in the world, making him the highest-ranked Nigerian and the 21st African on the boys log.
The 17-year-old reached the quarter-finals in the first leg before making a fine run to the final in the second – his 4th career singles final. In the doubles event, he partnered with Emmanuel Jebutu in the first leg to claim the 2nd ITF Junior doubles titles of his fledgling career yet. For 15-year-old Emmanuel Jebutu, it was a 1st career doubles title.
22 Nigerian players get ITF World Junior Rankings
From having just five boys and three girls on the ITF World Junior Rankings, 15 boys and 7 girls have now received ranking points. Notably, Canice Abua and Musa Mohammed, who claimed the boys singles titles in the first and second legs respectively, are now ranked in the top 1200 from initially having no rankings.
Mohammed had a remarkable campaign during the fortnight, as he played in three finals out of the 4 events he competed in – the 1st and 2nd leg singles finals and the 2nd leg doubles final, partnering Desmond Ayaaba of Ghana.
Players that had ranking points before the event in the boys category are Abayomi Philips, Emmanuel Jebutu, Michael Osewa, Joshua Aji and Wilson Igbinovia. After the Abuja event, Musa Mohammed (869), Canice Abua (1124), Gabriel Friday (1644), David Dawariye (1974), Musa Sani (1996), Elisha Olowogbile (2161), Rubi Toba (2346), Ojo Fredrick (2368), Uche Emeruwa (2425), David Ekpenyong (2507), Suleiman Ibrahim (2507), David John (2507), Michael Emmanuel (2641), Peter John (2641), and Benjamin Ayuba (2994) all got ranked on the ITF World Junior standings.
In the girls category, Oyinlomo Quadre, Marylove Edwards and Oiza Yakubu were the only players ranked before the Abuja event. After the event, Jesutoyosi Adeusi (1747), Rebecca Ekpenyong (1882), Toyin Asogba (2066), Omolayo Bamidele (2286), Serena Teluwo (2628), Joy Sunday Samuel (2802) and Omolade Aderemi (3107) all received ranking points.
The just-concluded J5 Abuja event was the first ITF Junior tournament to be hosted in Nigeria since 2010.
The President of the Nigeria Tennis Federation, Engr. Dayo Akindoju, following the conclusion of the event last week, called on sponsors to support the country’s tennis federation, saying more of these tournaments will create opportunities for the junior players to compete at higher levels.
“We are using this opportunity to call on sponsors to come support the Nigeria Tennis Federation, so we can have about 5 to 6 of this tournament spread across different locations in Nigeria,” the federation’s tennis chief said.
“When we have enough of these kind of tournament, which doesn’t cost so much, we are giving our young tennis players the opportunity to be on the world map.”