Stories By Lekan Olaseinde
Oyinlomo Quadri and Marylove Edwards headline Team Nigeria’s title defense as the 2018 ITF/CAT West and Central Africa Junior Championship Qualifiers serves off in Lome, Togo later today. The team left Lagos yesterday morning and are scheduled to arrive the venue same day.
Nigeria is aiming for a record-extending seventh consecutive overall winners title at the tournament which will draw to a close on January 17 featuring 12 countries. Rebecca Ekpeyong and Oiza Yakubu will compete alongside Quadri in the girls’ 16 and under while Iye Onoja and Reya Holmes will fly the nation’s flag in the 14 and under.
The boy’s team also look strong with Friday Gabriel, Matthew Abamu and Sani Musa battling in the boys’ 16 and under while Sulaiman Ibrahim, Usman Kushimo and Canice Joseph jostle in the 14 and under. The trio of Holmes, Kushimo and Joseph will be making their debut for Nigeria. South Africa will host the 14 and under while the 16 and under championship will take place in Tunisia.
Nigeria’s coach, Mohammed Ubale expressed confidence of the team clinching the top position. He cited the Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF) newly-introduced Play Your Age tournament which took place in Abuja mid December as well as the five-day close camping in Lagos as an ideal preparation for the country.
“The players are in good shape and are eager to do the country proud again as we have been topping the overall champions of this tournament for several years. It’s not going to be easy because the likes of Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Cameroun are breathing down our neck regarding who dominates junior tennis in the region. Nonetheless, we are good to go as we look to clinch as many tickets for the main tournaments coming up late this year.”
Quadri has been one of the top junior players in the continent in the past three years and he will be going aiming for the top prize in the Girls’ 16 and under category which he won last year.
She will be aiming for a third successive gold medal after winning the 14 and under title in Abuja in 2016 where she defeated Edwards in the final and triumphing last year in her present category.
On her part, Edwards, who is on holiday having shifted base to the Unites States last September, looks good to rule the 14 and under category.