Seun Ogunshakin is 10 years old and currently the toast of Nigeria. The Ekiti-native was among the 3-player boys’ team that represented Nigeria at the African Junior Championship Finals qualifiers for Under-12 in Cotonou, Benin Republic last week, and his sheer brilliance was largely instrumental in guiding the team to a third-place finish in the West African city.
Two singles and one doubles was the format used for a tie at the tournament, and as the event progressed, it became almost certain that the Nigerian boys’ team was assured of, at least, a win in the singles.
Ogunshakin was the driving force, unfailingly giving the team the lead in every tie. He did not lose a singles match the entire tournament, and most of the matches were business as usual – an efficient dismantling of even the top-ranked players of opposing teams. Shrewd on the court and vivacious off it, the youngster left all the players in awe.
So good, the ITF representative to the tournament, Illou Lonfo lauded the left-hander severally, noting he needs to be taken abroad for further development.
For Ogunshakin, with his striking brilliance comes an admirable passion for the game and for playing for his country. In the semifinals against Ghana, the boys’ team were narrowly edged 2-1. The result left the team disappointed and Ogunshakin, teary.
“I’d always be proud of representing Nigeria anytime,” the 10-year-old said. “I feel disappointed that we didn’t win, because I was in Benin Republic for business and not to play.”
This year, Ogunshakin won the Azimuth Junior Tennis Championships for Under-12 in Lagos, beating his teammate in Cotonou, Mohammed Idris, in the final. It was a sweet revenge for his loss in the final of the same event to the same player in 2018. Also in 2018, he won the Junior Governor’s Cup, Lagos for Under-10 and the Junior Tennis Championships for Under-12 in Abuja. Those title triumphs made up for runner-up finishes at the CBN Junior Tennis Championships for Under-10 in Lagos (also finished as a runner-up in 2017), the SNEPCO Junior Tennis C’ship for Under-10 (finished as a runner-up in 2017, too, losing to Precious Ikeuba in both finals), and the SOTA (Samuel Omoile Tennis Academy) Clinic for Under-12 in Lagos.
However, his memorable performance in Cotonou, and rightly so, has given him some satisfaction and more confidence. “I feel that if I go to the tournament [AJC U-12 qualifiers] next year, I’m going to be the winner,” he said in a post-tournament interview. The youngster, who, according to his father, has been playing tennis right from when he was a year old, is also aiming for the zenith of professional tennis. “I want to be a world number one tennis player in the future.”
But before then, he has his sights fixed on glory in the next event he’s taking part in, which could be the Chevron Junior Tennis Championships later this month. “I really hope to win it,” he said.
Ogunshakin is currently in Abuja on the request of the NTF’s President and the ITF expert, Illou Lonfo, who’s currently on a visit to the nation’s capital (see story).