Alberto â€œBobâ€ De La Rosa, a United Nations envoy in Nigeria is a tennis aficionado. A former top national tennis player from the Philippines, he was heavily involved in the development of the sport in his country rising to become the secretary general of the Tennis Federation of the Philippines.
When as special guest of honour at the finals of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Junior Tennis Championship he said:Â â€œ The standard of the juniors at this tournament, from age 10 to 18, is very high and I dare say that this junior circuit run by the international tennis Academy holds the key to Nigeria producing world class players.â€ â€“ many stakeholders concurred.
The CBN Junior tennis Championship, like all the junior tournaments run by the ITA in its circuit, featured singles events in five categories â€“ 10, 12, 13, 14, 16 and 18 â€“ and the boys categories were fully subscribed at this years event. In addition to the impressive skills and intensity of the players, the results also bore testimony to the progress made since the ITA Junior Tennis Circuit was established five years ago with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as the major sponsor.
A 15 minute exhibition match of two tie_breaks between super talented, eight years old, Indian born, Terry Das and 11 years old John Dickson ended 8_6, 7_5 with the Indian boy one point away from winning the first tie_break. An even more interesting result was played out in the boys 12 where the number one seed Sylvester Emmanuel lost the finals to team mate Michael Michael but won the higher category boys 14 event beating Shedrack Yakubu.
The boys 16 went according to the seedings with number one seed Kabiru Abdulmalik winning the event. He also reached the finals of the boys 18 upsetting the number two seed, Peter Stephen, in the semi finals.
â€œWhat these results tell usâ€ said Godwin Kienka, director of the International Tennis Academy, â€œis that the gaps between the age groups are disappearing.