The Nigerian Communications Commission has given Nigerian tennis a big shot in the arm with the announcement at the weekend of a team tennis championship that would offer a total prize money of N11 million with the winning team getting N5 million.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Mr Eugene Juwah, speaking at a media launch in Lagos said the sponsorship was the NCC’s “modest contribution to youth engagement in Nigeria.”
“The competition will feature all and the very best players in Nigeria and would introduce about 30 weeks of tennis into the Nigerian tennis calendar.
“In addition,” the chief executive continued, “the team tennis championship will take top level tennis to parts of the country which otherwise will not have the opportunity of seeing Nigeria’s best players in action.”
The EVC was represented by Mr Tony Ojobo, the director of Public Affairs in the Commission.
Reacting to the development, the President of the Nigerian Tennis Federation, Sani Ndanusa, described the initiative from the NCC as “a massive contribution to sports development in Nigeria and a game changer for Nigerian tennis.”
Mr Odein Ajumogobia, who was special guest at the occasion said the NCC Tennis Cup will definitely motivate Nigerian players to improve their game and hopefully push them to qualify for Grand Slam events which Nigeria has not featured in since Nduka Odizor.
The event also featured the draws for the eight teams which met the criteria for registration. According to Godwin Kienka, director of the International Tennis Academy, organisers of the championship,
the teams will play in two groups of four with the best two emerging for the semifinals.
The teams in the White Group are Kalotari Foundation Port Harcourt, Team Ogun State Abeokuta, Team FCT Abuja and the CBN Futures Team based in Kaduna. In the Blue Group are the Civil Defence Team based in Ibadan, Team Tombim Abuja, Team Delta State Asaba and Team Anambra State, Onitsha.
Mr Kienka further said that the NCC Tennis Cup will kick off with a mouth-watering challenge between players based in the North and those of the South. “This will come directly after the elections and will serve to test-run the championship, promote unity through sports and whet the appetite of tennis enthusiasts for the main ties across the nation.”