Abayomi Philips, who’s the highest-ranked Nigerian male on the ITF World Junior Rankings, kick-starts his 2020 season at the ITF Stavanger in Norway this week.

The 17-year-old will be at the Grade 5 hard-court indoor event alongside talented Nigerians, Emmanuel Jebutu and Toyin Asogba, who is listed in the girls main draw.

Last season, Philips claimed his first ITF World Junior title at the GTFLifetime Athletic Open—a Grade 5 tournament—in Accra, Ghana, in August, and went on to post runner-up finishes in Lome, Cotonou, and the NTF International Junior Championships in Abuja in November. While the 17-year-old noted his satisfaction with how he performed, he’s hoping to raise his level this year.

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Abayomi Philips in action at the J5 Abuja event.

“I think I played well last year,” Philips, who’s now ranked 325 on the ITF World Junior Rankings, said. “But I just have to put up my fight and train hard this year.”

He starts the year with a return to Stavanger, where he ended his 2019 season with a second round exit. The youngster has set sights on posting a better run this time.

“To compete in Europe is not easy,” Philips stated. “But I believe I am going to make the country [Nigeria] proud.”

Emmanuel Jebutu is also listed in the boys main draw. Last year, the 15-year-old posted quarterfinal showings at the J4 Lome in Togo, J5 Maputo in Mozambique and went as far as the semifinals at the J5 Abuja in November.

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Emmanuel Jebutu in action in Abuja.

The youngster, who’s now ranked 716 on the ITF Junior Rankings, closed his season on the ITF Tour with a first round exit at the J5 Bergen in Norway in December, but will look to begin 2020 on a fine note, when he takes to court in Stavanger next week.

Toyin Asogba put together her best showing on the ITF Junior Circuit, when she reached the quarterfinals at the J5 Abuja in November last year. The 16-year-old will now seek to build on that, when action begins in Stavanger.

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Toyin Asogba

Main draw action at the ITF Stavanger gets underway Monday, 27 January, at the Stavanger Tennis Club in Norway.