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Wimbledon: Emeka Achusiogu, Last Man To Officiate On Court 19

Emeka Achusiogu, a UK-based white badge Nigerian Umpire, is the last man to officiate on the now rested Court 19 at Wimbledon.

In 2016, Achusiogu called time on a match on Court 19 at Wimbledon, a historic moment in the history of the court.

An aerial view of the now rested Court 19 at Wimbledon before Achusiogu called time on the last match there. Photo credit: Google

The soft-spoken Anambra state indigene shared some insights with Nigeria Tennis Live during an exclusive interview.

Grand Slam Matches
“I wouldn’t go into details, but I’ve been so opportune to do some Grand Slam tournaments. I’ve done Wimbledon, Davis Cup as a line Umpire and as a Chair Umpire at the Junior Wimbledon. So, yeah, I’ve done some really interesting matches with some good players, you know.”

List some of the good players
“I’d say basically, I have been in all the matches with all the top players that you have now. Those before now and the present top players, I have been in all of their matches.”

What was the experience like?
“It’s an eye opener, it shows me how far we are away from the world, it’s totally a different ball game there than what we have in Nigeria. It shows me there are a lot of things that we need to do before we get to that stage. It shows me that if you are good, you can get anywhere, but the key thing is that we have to start getting it right from here.”

How easy was it to get into those matches
“I went to the UK to study, so my family came there to join me there, so my family lives there now. In order for me to maintain my 24 matches, I had to apply to them, to see if I can get matches while living there and I had to register with them as a member of their tennis association.

Emeka Achusiogu addressing some Nigerian Umpires during an event in Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria. Photo: Nigeria Tennis Live.

“So, from there, I worked my way up. They have a grading system here and I had to start from the least, and I had to start climbing up till you get to the stage where you can be invited to the Wimbledon. You don’t have to lobby, it’s not like Nigeria.”

Federer, Djokovic, Nadal, which of these players is most difficult to officiate against?
“That’s one thing I can’t say, honestly, I can’t discuss players. I can discuss about my officiating but not about players.”

Were you under pressure during the first grass court match you chaired?
“I was rather in awe when I stepped on grass for the first time, it was an exhibition tournament, so when I did my first Grass Court event, it was out of the world, it’s an experience I’ll never forget because I keep hearing different types of court, but it was on that day I saw grass court for the first time.

“I just wondered, and then I saw how everything looked like. It’s another feeling entirely, it’s something I cannot equate with any other thing.”

Biggest moment in Umpiring till date?
“Umpiring a Juniors Doubles final in Wimbledon. My biggest ever would be to have 25 years umpiring at Wimbledon. I have done 11 years already and need 14 more years which is a tall task, which I don’t know if I’ll ever reach.

“It is only a select few that get up to 25 years at Wimbledon. Only a select few get up to that number, if you do, you’ll get a recognition. It’s a landmark. There are a select few aside UK citizens that get to that 25.”

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