Nigeria: Sanwo-Olu To Host First Lagos Open Tennis As Governor Of Lagos State
By Taiwo Adelu
London, August 29, 2019 (AltAfrica) – The city of Lagos, the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, will once again be a centre of world attraction when the International Tennis Federation (ITF) approved Lagos Open Tennis is held between 7 and 20 October, 2019.
The Championship, an ITF Tour, which enters its 19th edition, had been known as the Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis Championship since year 2000 when its first edition was held at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, but rechristened Lagos Open Tennis last year for what the organisers described as rebranding of the tournament to become a Challenger starting from the 2020 edition.
Alternativeafrica.com reports that with record entries of players from more than 60 countries across the world, the Lagos Open Tennis has always been a destination for emerging young tennis players to fight for ATP points and $100,000 prize money in the men and women’s singles as well as the doubles events in both the men and women categories. The tournament is played within the course of two weeks (Futures 4 &5) at the Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan, Lagos.
In last year’s tournament, British youngster, Jack Draper, caused a major upset in the finals of the second leg watched by the former Governor of Lagos, Akinwunmi Ambode and other important personalities, as well as hundreds of school children who were mobilised to watch live tennis action from the older players.
Draper became the youngest winner of an ITF Futures tournament in Nigeria following a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over highly experienced top seed, Tom Jomby of France. The 16-year-old Brit was to after the Lagos Open gone on to play in the 2019 Wimbledon Open and made surprising improvement of his tennis career.
This had always been the testimonies of players who came to Lagos for the Championship. Sania Mirza of India won the two legs of women’s singles in the 2004 edition. Sania, Indian top woman player, in the two years following this Championship went on to become No. 27 highest ranked player in the world. Alex Sabrinsky from Great Britain won the tournament in the 2007 edition. He was to break into the Davis Cup team of his country in the following year.
The competition was designed and packaged since inception with strong facilitating support from the Lagos State Government to celebrate the sitting Governor of Lagos State since the era of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (1999-2007) and the continuum had seen it through the governments of Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (2007-2015) and erstwhile Governor Akinwunmi Ambode (2015-2019).
The 2019 edition is a defining year for the premier international tennis tournament in Nigeria as it will be the first edition since the incumbent governor; Babajide Sanwo-Olu assumed office on 29 May, 2019. The Governor, it was gathered, is expected to put the weight of his government on the Championship to make it a memorable event as his predecessors had done during their governments.
The Local Organising Committee (LOC) headed by Chief Pius Akinyelure, the Vice Chairman of the LOC, Engr. Afolabi Salami and the Tournament Director, Prince Wale Oladunjoye are leaving nothing to chance to ensure that the 19th Lagos Open Tennis leaves up to expectations.
Prince Oladunjoye, who initiated this tournament nurturing it till now with active backing and support of the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the LOC, is doing a lot apart from other positive sports initiatives during Fashola’s tenure that created so many budding talents, to ensure that the longest serving tournament in Africa is always organised in conformity with international best practices.
“The two week period of 7-20 October, 2019 promises moments of exciting tennis at this year’s Lagos Open,” said Prince Oladunjoye, who has been the tournament Director of the competition since inception, and he can be regarded as the longest serving Tournament Director of any internationally recognised Championship in Nigeria.
“We are expecting coterie of promising young players across the world. We have been receiving enquires from many players around the world who are ready to participate in the Lagos Open Tennis. I expect another record entry this year as we used to have it annually.
“The LOC is working assiduously to make the first tournament in the government of Governor Sanwo-Olu a memorable one. The Lagos Lawn Tennis Club with the new management headed by Mr Ademola Amin-Taylor, the newly elected president, is in this with us so also is our Consultant, one of Nigeria’s best in marketing, OE&E Consulting, which has been doing a wonderful job to get this Tournament across to our numerous sponsors.
“I enjoin tennis faithfuls to see the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan as their destination to watch exciting tennis action from these emerging young players across the world in this year’s Lagos Open Tennis.
“This tournament has always a big boost to promote and expose tourism potentials of Lagos, one of the emerging mega cities of the world and we believe this year’s event won’t be an exception” Oladunjoye said.