The top junior tennis players are brimming with excitement as the first edition of the Zenith Bank “Next Generation” Junior Tennis Masters get underway today at the National Stadium Tennis Centre in Lagos.
The tournament, which is being designed to identify the best players who are transiting from the juniors to seniors and challenge them to upstage the seniors, will feature the best eight boys and girls in the 18s category.
According to the director of the International Tennis Academy, Godwin Kienka, only players who performed exceedingly well last year can qualify to play.
“All the players are in town for the Masters while others who missed the mark are asking to be included,” Godwin Kienka said. “A Masters is a Masters and only the best, based on their performance in the last one year, can qualify.”
“That is actually the whole idea. The juniors are going to take their training much more seriously and work really hard to qualify next year. There is no doubt that this tournament will help fast track the development process,” he added.
The eight boys invited for the Masters are Michael Oshewa, who’s the boys 18 champion, Godgift Timibra, Stephen Augustine, Tochukwu Ezeh, Michael Ayoola, Emma Jebutu, Philip Abayomi and Gabriel Friday winner of the Boys 16 title at the CBN Junior Championship. Mathew Abamu, the runner-up, will standby as an alternate.
The Girl’s category will feature Oyinlomo Quadre, a semifinalist at the African Junior Championship Girl’s 16 category in Tunisia, Favour Moses, winner of the CBN Junior Championship, Omolade Aderemi, Omolayo Bamidele, Toyin Asogba, Kasara Adegboyega, Mariam Alli-Balogun, and Rebecca Ekpeyong. Oiza Yakubu, winner of the Girl’s 14 event at the CBN Juniors will serve as alternate.
According to the organisers, the tournament will have the players divided into two round robin groups of four with the top two finishers playing a cross semifinals.
The tournament which is being bankrolled by Zenith Bank under the auspices of the International Tennis Academy, will have its matches start at 10am daily, including the final on Saturday, 28 April, which will be held at the same venue.