Nigeria’s Marylove Edwards has been at the IMG Academy in Florida since 2018 honing her skills for a professional career in tennis. Before moving to the U.S, the Edo State born youngster etched her name into the annals of Nigerian tennis history, when she became the youngest-ever finalist of the CBN Senior Open.
Aged only 12, she got into the main draw of the 2017 CBN Senior Open as a wildcard and posted a remarkable run to the final in Lagos. En route to the final, she beat 7th seed Ronke Akingbade 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the round of 16, sped past Deborah Gbadamosi 6-1, 6-0 in the quarter-finals, before defeating 3rd seed, Blessing Samuel 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 in a semi-final thriller that lasted almost 3 hours. In the final, however, Sarah Adegoke proved too much for her.
Away from her exploit in that senior tournament, Edwards has won almost every junior tournament in the country.
We caught up with the 14-year-old tennis prodigy to learn more about her.
What have you been up to recently?
I’ve been practicing a lot. I just recently came back from the US for summer break. I have a main goal for the next 12 months which is to play ITF only, because i just started playing ITFs last year.
What was the experience at the Academy like?
It’s been very great. Meeting new people, great facilities, great coaches, new weather.
How was it like combining education and tennis at the Academy?
It’s been very great. I school in the afternoon and I play tennis in the morning. I was able to cope well with both.
You always sound very confident when speaking about yourself. Where did you gain that confidence from?
I gained it from my dad, because my dad is a really confident person, always pushing me even when I’m down and he’s always believing in me.
What surface would you say you enjoy playing on the most?
Hard court. Maybe because I started playing tennis on hard court and maybe because its faster. Clay is a little bit slow, you have to move more when playing.
What recreational activities keep you going when you’re less busy?
I watch movies when I’m free because i really don’t like going out.
Who’s your sporting idol?
The Williams Sisters. They’ve been my motivation from the start. Serena Williams winning 23 Grand Slams and they are still pushing hard despite their age. I also want to be myself, Marylove Edwards and be a future tennis star.
What do you like specifically about the William Sisters?
The love between both sisters on & off the court is really great. I like how Serena is so aggressive on the court, the way she pushes hard even when she’s down. Coming back from having a baby, winning a Grand Slam when she’s pregnant is quite inspiring.
Best tennis moment till date?
When I got into the finals of a senior tournament, it was amazing. When i did that, I knew that there are more great things coming for me.
How much do you miss home when you’re away?
Sometimes, I miss home a lot because I’ve been with my family my whole life, but I’m getting used to it already.
What inspiration do you draw from Cori Gauff and Caty McNally when you watch them doing well on the international stage?
First I’m very happy for them. When I see them I’m like that’s me in the future. I know my time is coming because this year I’m focusing more on ITFs in the next 12 months.
I’d start with the ITF tournaments around West Africa and I hope in 2 years I want to be playing Grand Slams.
What will you say about your sponsor Temple Management Company?
It’s been great, like I’m honored to be part of the Temple Management Company. They’ve been really great most especially Mr Koye Sowemimo who is my manager.