The coach of the Nigerian Team to the ITF/CAT African Junior Championship qualifiers in Lome, Togo, Coach Abel Ubiebi, has lauded the Nigeria Tennis Federation for her commitment to ensure a successful outing for the junior players in Togo.
In the past, there have been complaints about the lack of adequate preparations for the players from the federation before they go on tournaments. However, the situation looks to have changed and Coach Ubiebi says this year will be different.
“There is 100% support from the Federation and there will be support, too, in preparation for April (African Individual Junior Championship for 14 & 16 Under). I believe this year will be a different one,” the ACES Tennis founder said.
In April, the 1st AJC for 14 & Under will take place in Benoni, South Africa, and the AJC for 16 & Under will be in Tunis same month. The Individual Zones’ Championship for 14 and 16 years & Under will serve as an evaluation for an eventual selection for potential players to take part in the event. And the coach revealed there are already plans to prepare the players for the April event.
“There is a program on ground from the Federation to prepare them for the April events after we have qualified,” he said.
Nigeria has been the defending champion at the event for the past eight years. Last year, the Team won gold both in the Boys and Girls 14 & Under category, but fell short in the 16 & Under category. The coach, however, believes the players now have what it takes to go a notch higher and better last year’s performances.
“We want to improve our last year’s performance,” the coach said. “They did very well, but this year with our goals and what we have on ground- our selection of the team and trainings so far, I think our 16 & Under will deliver for sure and the 14 & Under will defend [their gold medals].
Among the 12 players comprising the Nigerian contingent to Togo is Mukhtar Andu, a Bristish-Nigerian, who Coach Ubiebi revealed was eager to represent his home nation in the AJC qualifiers.
“We saw his performance at the Lagos Open and we believe that he is good enough to join us,” the coach said about Mukhtar Andu. “At the same time, he’s more or less thirsty to represent the country because he knows that we have what it takes. When we threw the invitation to him, he did not say no.”
Abel Ubiebi takes over from Coach Ubale for the AJC qualifiers as the latter is away on another assignment. Ubiebi is joined by Patience Onebamhoin, who will work as the female coach.