The ITF/CAT West and Central African Junior Championships qualifiers for 2019 will get underway on Monday, 7 January in Togo and the Nigerian Team, defending champions for the past seven years, are being primed for victory again.

The competition, which is organized by the Confederation of African Tennis in conjunction with the International Tennis Federation and Fédération Togolaise de Tennis (FTT), with the support of the Grand Slam Development Fund (GSDF), will take place from 7 January – 10 & 11 – 15 at the Stade Omnisports Eyadéma & AAT Tennis Club in Lome, Togo and has all countries in the West and Central African regions invited to participate.

Each nation is entitled to send a team comprising a maximum of 12 players—3 boys and 3 girls each for the 14 and 16 & Under events—and one coach for those nations with up to 6 players or two coaches for those nations with 7 players or more. The host nation is entitled to enter additional players.

Only one team per age group and per gender will get automatic qualification for final event of the African Junior Teams’ Championships which will take place in June 2019.

Marylove Edwards, who won gold in the Girls’ 14 & Under category last year, will lead the charge for glory in the 16 & Under category this time, alongside Mary Udoffa and Rebecca Ekpeyong.

In the Boys’ 16 & Under category, the trio of Usman Kushimo, who clinched gold in last year’s event, Matthew Abamu and British-Nigerian Mukhtar Andu will seek to claim top honours.

Oiza Yakubu, Iye Onoja and Serena Teluwo make up the Girls’ 14 & Under category for Nigeria, while Suleiman Ibrahim, Joshua Maxwell and Mubarak Ganiyu will compete the Boys’ 14 & Under category.

Preparations for these players are already in full swing at the National Stadium in Surulere, with ACES Tennis founder, Coach Abel Ubiebi and Patience Onebamhoin taking the players through their drills.

At the end of the event, a final country ranking will be determined on the basis of accumulation of points in the boys’ and girls’ singles and doubles events.

Only the four best singles results and the four best individual doubles results of each country will be counted to reach a total and to determine the rankings of the countries for the zone and consequently, the winner of the Junior Championships Team Trophy. The best nation in the country ranking will win the Junior Championships Team Trophy.

Furthermore, the Individual Zones’ Championships for 14 and 16 years & Under will serve as an evaluation for an eventual selection for potential players to take part in the 1st AJC for 14 & Under, which will take place in Benoni, South Africa by the end of April 2019, and for the AJC for 16 & Under, which takes place in Tunis during the second week of April 2019.