Arinze Eze is fondly called Oyenkuzi at the tennis club of Golden Tulip Hotel, Festac Town. Onyenkuzi is an Igbo name for teacher. His strokes on tennis court earned him that sobriquet.
But for his age one would have been provoked to ask if he dreamed of playing professionally. Although he is among the young players in the club he may be too old for competitive tennis outside social and club tennis.
He plays tennis everyday and sometimes two times a day. And he gets due results with the number of injuries he picks up. If his knee is not bulging out and aching his waist or groin will be sending the message of his excesses.
But it’s simply his passion for tennis. Club members still don’t know how to rate his passion for tennis and that of Dr Ugoji Egbujo whose technique is classic and plays as good as he writes in his Saturday column in Vanguard. Onochie Anibeze has learnt not stretch to return his passing shots. Three times Onochie did that earned him break from tennis through muscle tears.
Arinze plays the semifinal of the Golden Tulip Tennis Tournament this morning with Ever Nwachukwu. Will he be the teacher they call him on court? Ordinarily, it would have been easy to predict outcome of today’s match. But Arinze’s knee injury could throw the match open. Nwachukwu is another good club player. It will be the star match of the day.
The other will be between Rex Azere and Ikeddy. The end-of-year tennis tournament has been fun to members who will be missing the jokes of club’s High Priest, Magnus Ike who couldn’t make it to this stage. He is known to distract tennis games with his humour.
Yesterday, he was praying that Arinze who travelled out of town may not show up so that he could earn a spot as a lucky loser. If he does he will surely entertain with his incantations, trying to invoke the spirits of his ancestors on court. But Magnus will be better today cheering from the sidelines where his jokes will entertain more than his tennis.