Lagos – Fifty-five countries will be jostling for honours at the 12th annual Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis Championships holding from Oct. 13 to Oct. 27 at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan.
The tournament is being organised by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) in collaboration with the Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF).
The competition which has 80,000 dollars prize money is being sponsored by First City Monument Bank (FCMB) and telecommunication company, Etisalat Nigeria.
Pius Oluwole-Akinyelure, the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), told journalists on Thursday in Lagos that the championships had gained publicity and witnessed tremendous improvement.
According to him, 35 countries participated in the last edition of the championships in 2011, a number that has increased to 55 this year.
“The championships have witnessed great improvement with the quality of foreign players and the number of countries which increased from 35 to 55 this year,’’ he said.
He also said that the quality of foreign players participating in the championships had given Nigerian players the opportunity to show their skills internationally and given them exposure.
Oluwole-Akinyelure assured participants that the championships would be a memorable one with lots of glamour.
He thanked Gov. Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State for his unflinching support for the game.
“This edition has promised to be very exciting and memorable, I thank our sponsors and Gov. Babatunde Fashola for their support for the improvement of tennis,’’ Oluwole- Akinyelure said.
In his contribution, Sanni Ndanusa, President, Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF), who also lauded the championships, said that its sustenance was worthy of emulation.
Ndanusa, who was represented by the NTF Vice-President, Yemi Owoseni, called on the other state governments and corporate organisations to emulate Lagos State to promote the game.
“I implore other state governments to emulate Lagos State to promote the sport in the country,’’ Ndanusa said.
Meanwhile, Nina Bratchikova of Russia, who reached the second round of the 2012 Australian Open, is one of the top female tennis players expected to participate in the championships.
Nina, ranked 93 in the world, has been a past winner of the Governor’s Cup and she is coming to fight for the 50,000 dollars prize money for the women category.
Others are Kristina Kucova of Slovakia, Anne Schaefer of Germany, Conny Perrin of Switzerland, Laura Loana -Andrei of Romania, Melanie Klaffner of Austria, Karolina Nowak of Germany and Lara Rafful of Italy.
The Nigerian female players are Fatimah Abinu, Christie Agugbom, Chinenye Izuogu, Blessing Samuel, Blessing Anuna , Osariemen Airhumwunde, Laurent Rochette and Shehu Lawal.
The males are Candy Idoko, Clifford Enosoregbe, Onyeka Mbanu, Kehinde Alade, Destiny Ford-Da Silva, Monday Igbinovia, Samuel Omoile, Ganiyu Yussuf, Pekun Akingbde, Sunday Igbinovia, Omotayo Kaseem, Sanni Adamu and Bolaji Olawepo. (NAN)