We look ahead to the 2019 season in Nigeria and make a rundown of players to watch in the women’s field.
Samuel was unarguably the best player in the women’s field last year. A hattrick of titles—the Vemp Open in Abuja, the Rainoil Open in Lagos, and the Dala Hard Courts in Kano, saw her rise to the top of the women’s rankings. Her victory in the final of the Rainoil Open against Christie Agugbom, where she bounced back from the brink of defeat to turn the match around and seal victory, lay credence to her brilliance and doggedness. She currently sits comfortably at the zenith of women’s tennis as No.1, and with what she put up last year, you can look forward to more dominating performances from the 28-year-old.
In 2017, Adegoke was virtually unplayable. Save the Dala Hard Court in Kano, she clinched all national titles. She would bring that momentum into the 2018 season, clinching the CBN Open title. But after that, she struggled with her composure in final rounds of national tourneys. Back-to-back semifinal showings and a run to the final in Dala characterized the remainder of her season. She’s presently ranked 2nd in the country. But for a player, who was once almost flawless, she would want to get back to her devasting best, surely.
Veteran, Christie Agugbom has reached the twilight of her career. Now aged 36, the former No.1, put together impressive performances to reach the final of the CBN and Rainoil events last year. Agugbom’s last title triumph was at the Dala Hard Court in November 2016. If a retirement is coming soon, then she would want to bow out on the highest of notes. To do that, she has to go one better than her previous performances. Still in good form and hitting freely, she could own this season.
In April last year, Oiza Yakubu won the Under 14 Girls’ title at the CBN Junior Tennis Championships. Seven months later, the 13-year-old stunned all who were watching to reach the quarterfinals of the Rainoil Open- her maiden senior tournament. She defeated veteran Omotayo Osewa and Oluchi Ozurumba, before she was eventually stopped by the experienced Agugbom.
Expect to see more of the 21st-ranked youngster this season.
Udoffa was instrumental in Team Nigeria’s impressive outing at the African Junior Championship qualifiers in Togo earlier in the year, playing in the Girls 16 & Under category. She has also impressed in a couple of junior tournaments in recent years. Last year, at the Rainoil Open, she played for a place in the quarterfinals, but fell short to Patience Onebamhoin. But with the promises she’s shown, she will be one to make an impact this year.