When the organizers of the annual Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Senior Tennis Open announced that they were moving the venue of the 40th edition of the tournament to Abuja, so many dusts were raised about the possibility of this ever happening.
In fact, several players called Nigeria Tennis Live a fake news medium for posting such a preposterous report about moving the tournament, which is known to be ‘domiciled’ in Lagos, to Abuja, while many others said they’d rather have it in the Federal Capital for reasons best known to them.
Alas! The federation confirmed, a few weeks to the commencement of one of the most prestigious local tournaments, that the event would be held at the Package B of the National Stadium, Abuja, where there are over 20 tennis courts to serve such an important event.
The tournament held, and a new winner emerged in the frame of Sylvester Emmanuel, who battled the legendary Abdulmumin Babalola to win the only national tournament missing from his cabinet of national trophies.
While some players and officials who were disgruntled by the movement of the tournament from Lagos to Abuja may have forgotten the experience quickly, it may not depart the hearts of several others who believe that Lagos is the home of tennis in Nigeria.
In reality, most of the national tournaments are presently being played in Abuja, if we add the newly-introduced ones (Brains and Hammers and FCT Open) as well, leaving Lagosians with only the Rainoil Senior Tennis Championship and (perhaps) the CBN Open – if it stages a return to Lagos.
With the latest developments in Nigerian tennis, it is believed that the Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF) under the leadership of Engr. Ifedayo Akindoju is ready to ensure that no week passes by without a national tennis tournament, but will this be to the detriment of the players?
If they are to play senior national tournaments week in week out, would it not be ‘fair’ to have these tournaments spread across different zones around the country? These are some of the questions on the lips of the players and coaches who would love the idea of non-stop competitions.
While it may be difficult to change the minds of the sponsors of these tournaments as regards the location they desire for their competitions, it is worthy to note that the players whom they are ‘trying to help’ may be suffering the brunt of situating most tournaments in the same location.
The 2019 CBN Open which is the 41st edition of one arguably the longest running national tournaments in Nigeria will soon be in the news, but will it stage a return to the beautiful City of Lagos or remain in Abuja? Or do the players really want it to remain in the Federal Capital for reasons best known to them?