By John Egbokhan
Junior tennis players from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, are gearing up for a heated competition for wild card slots at the national trials later this month in Ekiti State, for places in the forthcoming African Junior Championship (AJC) in Abuja.
Already, six players, Umaru Balami, Onyeka Ubanu, Emmanuel Idoko, Aminat Quadri and Sarah Adegoke have gained direct entries into the competition while the remaining 16 slots are up for grabs at the trials, holding from February 22-27 at the Trade Fair Complex in Ado-Ekiti.
Confirming this development to Sports Vanguard on the telephone, coordinator of the event, Coach Ubale Mohamed, said that since Nigeria are to parade21 players in the three categories, comprising 14 and under, 16 and under and 18 and under, that the only way that the vacuum places can be allotted was for states of the federation to field a player in the boys and girls categories.
Mohamed, who is the national junior coach, said that the trials would be conducted by three independent coaches, three national umpires and six local officials from Ekiti State, in order to ensure that fair play and strict adherence to laid down rules are followed.
He noted that this is the first time in as many years that a national trials would be holding to select players who would fill wild card slots in a national and continental championship, insisting that he was optimistic that the players who finally get the nod to play for the country would go on to do Nigeria proud at the AJC.