|Mary-Love Edwards (left) and her rival, Angel McCleod (right), with their trophies after the Junior CBN Open U-16 final in Lagos on Saturday, 25 April, 2015 which McCleod won 9-5|
Since last year, when Dubai-based tennis prodigy, Angel McCleod, made her entrant into Nigerian tennis, junior tennis in Nigeria has taken a new shape.
Prior to this period, junior female tennis in Nigeria had been dominated by a certain Mary-Love Edwards, whom many have tipped to shine in the coming years and many more years to come.
Such was her dominance that she was sure to win every junior tennis event in the country.
|Ange McCleod receiving her trophy after winning the Girls’ U-16 final match against Mary-Love Edwards at the Junior CBN Open in Lagos last weekend|
In fact, at a junior tourney in Kaduna in 2014, a colleague asked her to resign because she had won too many trophies, rackets, shoes and other gift items for her age.
But, when McCleod stepped into the scene, Edwards’ dominance was suddenly cut short, especially in the U-16, where her(Edwards’) nemesis, Zainab Oladimeji held sway before moving to the seniors.
McCleod has since last year, met Edwards in three different finals and has not lost to her friend in all the events.
To make matters worse, Edwards lost to her eternal rival at the finals of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Junior Open just last week and this has raised eyebrows on whether the talented youngster will ever secure a win against her more exposed counterpart.
|Mary-Love Edwards receiving her trophy after losing the Girls’ U-16 final match to Angel McCleod at the Junior CBN Open in Lagos last weekend|
The irony of it all is that both players were at a point, under the tutelage of respected tennis-coach, Kayode Savage, who had always been with Edwards before the arrival of McCleod.
Observers believe that both players should be carefully managed and invested in by stakeholders in the game because they represent the future for female tennis in the country.
Others noted that if both players keep playing against each other, they will both get better for it. But, like other rivalries that we have witnessed in world tennis, it is expected that one of these days, Edwards will get one past her more fancied friend.
The question on her coach’s mind would therefore be, “When will my girl defeat McCleod?”