Star prospects, Marylove Edwards and Oiza Yakubu headline Nigeria’s strong contingent to the 2019 ITF West and Central Africa Africa Junior Tennis Championship qualifiers which would serve off Tuesday at the Stade Omnisports, Lome, Togo.
The team made up of six boys and six girls will be coached by Abel Ubiebi with national player Patience Onebamboin as assistant.
Nick Bolleteri Tennis Academy US-based Edwards, Mary Udofia and Rebecca Ekpeyong will compete in the U-16 Girls category while Iye Onoja, Serena Teluwo and Oiza Yakubu will play in the U-14 category.
UK-based Andu Mukhtar, who will be in Nigeria’s colour for the very first time, will alongside Matthew Abamu and Usman Kushimo vie for honours in the boys’ 16 and Under while Ganiyu Mubarak, Ibrahim Suleiman and Joshua Maxwell will jostle for honours in the 14 and Under.
“They all appear enthusiastic and are raring to go. They have also shown positive attitudes in training which is very important ahead of such an important tournament. I believe we shall return victorious,” said Ubiebi.
Yakubu, who has been enjoying a steady growth in the last few years by winning a host of national junior titles, is looking forward to clinch gold in her category having featured in the U16 last year where she had a podium finish.
Nigeria is the most successful nation in the tournament winning seven out of the last eight editions including the last one which also took place in Togo.
The tournament which is expected to feature about 12 countries while the main African Junior Championship is scheduled to take place later this year.
South Africa’s Kevin Anderson will battle World Number 1 Novak Djokovic for the 2018 Mubadala World Tennis Championship trophy. The South African who had earlier called out the top ranked players before the tournament started made good his threat when he came up against Rafael Nadal in the Semi-Finals in Abu Dhabi.
Anderson lost the first set 4-6, but went to win 6-3, 6-4 against the spaniard who is currently ranked as the world number 2.
The South African who is currently ranked number 6 in the world will now face Novak Djokovic.
Speaking about Djokovic He won the second Semi-Finals with so much ease against Russia’s Karen Khachanov. The world number 1 dispatched the Russian in straight sets of 6-4, 6-2.
Anderson and Djokovic will meet in the finals on Saturday evening.
The Williams Sisters Venus and Serena have commended the new WTA “Special Ranking Rule”. The WTA has just declared that player’s ranking freezes if the player falls ill, Get’s Pregnant or is Injured. a player can use her special ranking for seeding purposes at WTA events.
A player who as been out of competition for more than six months but less than a year can use her special ranking for up to eight tournaments in a one-year period
Venus Williams Commenting about the new rule said: “Things are changing as people are realising that you can have a family and still play tournaments. So, I am very happy.”
On her part, Serena Williams Who recently had her first child expressed joy at the news: “It is great. Women who are younger can go out there and have kids. They don’t have to worry about it or wait for years to have children,”
The sisters are currently participating in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
The ITF today announced the launch of the ITF World Tennis Tour in 2019 that will serve as a player pathway between the junior game and elite levels of professional tennis.
The launch of the tour is the culmination of a series of ITF reforms designed to support talented junior players in their progression to the senior game, and target the prize money effectively at professional tournaments to enable more players to make a living. The tour will also increase the number of nations hosting ITF tournaments in 2019, providing opportunities for more players.
The ITF World Tennis Tour forms part of a new worldwide tournament structure that has been agreed between the ITF, ATP and WTA in order to address the current challenges at entry level. Under the ITF World Tennis Tour umbrella, tournaments will be split into the following categories:
The ITF has unveiled the ITF World Tennis Tour™ logo and sub-brands that have been created to unify the look and feel of the ITF World Tennis Tour across over 1,600 tournaments that are expected to be staged in 2019.
The reforms followed a three-year ITF review of professional and junior tennis that included an analysis of player and event data from 2001-13, and a survey of more than 50,000 stakeholders. They address fundamental issues in the existing player pathway and changing trends in tennis that include too many players trying to compete on the professional circuit; too few players breaking even; longer playing careers at the top of the game; and the difficulty for many talented junior players in transitioning to professional tennis.
The first phase of the reforms saw an extensive programme of prize money increases on the ITF Pro Circuit in 2016 and 2017, with total prize money increasing by around $1.5 million.
The reforms announced today include the new tournament at entry-level – ITF World Tennis Tour 15s category – that will be staged within a more localised circuit structure with cheaper hosting requirements that reduce costs for players and tournament organisers. Offering ITF World Tennis Ranking points, these tournaments will also increase opportunities for players from more countries to join the pathway and be supported in their transition to professional tennis.
The introduction of the ITF World Tennis Ranking will ensure a consistent approach for entries into all events, with players using their ATP/WTA ranking followed by ITF ranking.
In order that successful players in juniors, 15s and men’s 25s tournaments are able to progress more quickly to the next level, there will be reserved places in higher-level tournaments for highly-ranked players on the ITF Junior World Ranking and ITF World Tennis Ranking. This includes reserved places for ITF-ranked players in the main draw and qualifying of ATP Challenger tournaments.
The implementation of the new ATP, WTA and ITF ranking systems will take place at the end of 2018. Any ATP or WTA ranking points earned at $15,000 ITF Pro Circuit tournaments (as well ATP points earned in early rounds of $25,000 Pro Circuit events) in 2018 will be converted into ITF World Tennis Ranking points.
ITF President David Haggerty said: “The ITF World Tennis Tour provides a clear and integrated pathway designed to attract and retain the best new talent. As part of our ITF2024 strategy, it is our mission to deliver for the next generation of players, and the new Tour will help address the issues of progression between the junior and senior game, and potentially enable more professional players to make a living.”
Thomas Konigsfeldt, Chair of the ITF Men’s and Women’s Circuit Committees, said: “It is vital that we provide opportunities for players of any nation or background to start their journey towards the top 100. The inclusion of the 15s tournaments as part of a new Tour will allow players to take the first steps towards becoming a future champion within a more targeted and affordable circuit structure.”
The ITF has announced an agreement with KPMG Czech Republic, a leading provider of consulting services, to become an international partner of the 2018 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Final. Czech Republic and USA will contest the title decider at Prague’s O2 Arena on 10-11 November
KPMG joins the Fed Cup family of sponsors that includes title sponsor BNP Paribas, international sponsor Adecco, Official Global Media Rights Partner beIN SPORTS, and Fed Cup Final international partner Toray.
KPMG is looking to inspire the next generation of female business leaders at the Fed Cup Final by inviting female business students from universities across the Czech Republic and some of the best performing female staff at KPMG. The Fed Cup Final will offer a dynamic platform for guests to network and explore what it means to achieve great results, whether in sport or business.
ITF President David Haggerty said: “We are pleased to welcome KPMG to our family of sponsors at the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Final. The company shares the ITF’s desire to create more opportunities for women to become leaders in sport, and we are delighted to partner with them this weekend. Alongside KPMG’s own activities at the Final, the ITF is holding an Empowering Female Leaders workshop for 11 of the top female tennis officials in Europe.”
Radek Halicek, Managing Partner of KPMG Czech Republic, said: “We are very excited to be an official partner of the 2018 Fed Cup Final by BNP Paribas. At KPMG, we are committed to inspiring and empowering the next generation of female leaders. The Fed Cup Final therefore offers a great platform for KPMG to highlight its commitment to women in both sport and in business.
“KPMG will be using the Fed Cup Final to invite the brightest female business talent from KPMG and universities in the Czech Republic, and showcase what it takes to be successful leader. What you really need in Fed Cup are strong and talented individuals that work together as a perfect team. And that is exactly what we in KPMG believe in and where our successes come from.”
KPMG Czech Republic is one of the largest providers of consulting services in the country, with over 1,000 specialists. As a member of a global network of professional firms, KPMG Czech Republic can draw on the knowledge and experience of more than 200,000 experts working in 154 countries.
For all their recent successes in Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, there is one thing that the Czechs have not been able to achieve in over 30 years – a victory against the most-successful Fed Cup nation of all time, USA, has eluded them since 1985.
They will have a chance to end that winless streak this weekend, with the Fed Cup Final seeing Petr Pala’s Czech team face off with 2017 title-winners USA, led by Kathy Rinaldi, who is unbeaten in her five ties since taking over the captaincy last year.
“It will be great playing the US, an amazing final,” Pala mused after Czech Republic’s semifinal victory over Germany earlier this year – and he’s not wrong. A team that has won five of the last seven Fed Cup titles taking on the defending champions, who have not lost in over two years – what could be better?
The Czechs’ last victory against USA came in the 1985 Final when, as Czechoslovakia, Helena Sukova and Hana Mandlikova posted singles triumphs to steer the team to victory. But the Americans hit back in the Final the following year – a tie which, coincidentally, was the only time that the Czechs and Americans have previously played in Prague – with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova winning the trophy back for USA.
And the Americans have gone on to win the nations’ subsequent seven meetings, including their most-recent clash – a 3-2 victory in the 2017 semifinals at the Saddlebrook Resort in Florida.
But despite all that history, it is hard to look past the Czechs’ phenomenal recent record at the business end of the competition. And playing at home, where they have won three of their five titles since 2011, will surely be a boost for the team.
“Every Fed Cup Final is great to play, but especially when you are at home,” Pala continued after the semifinal victory in April. “I hope it will be a sold-out crowd.” (It is – with 10,700 fans guaranteed at the O2 Arena on both days of play.)
“The motivation from the start has been to play a Final at home. We didn’t have to say anything more. I don’t have to motivate them anymore. They love to play Fed Cup. They love to play in front of their home crowd.”
Pala’s team is immensely strong, even in spite of Saturday’s news that world No. 8 Karolina Pliskova is likely to miss the tie with a calf injury. Petra Kvitova, the world No. 7, will lead the team with support from world No. 31 Katerina Siniakova (also ranked No. 1 in doubles) and world No. 33 Barbora Strycova.
Having won all four of the rubbers she has contested this year, Kvitova could complete a perfect year in singles for the second time in her career if she wins two singles rubbers this weekend. And perhaps even more significantly, victory this weekend would see her claim her sixth Fed Cup title and equal Rosie Casals in third place on the list for most Fed Cup titles won as a player, behind only Evert and Billie Jean King.
The Czechs will not, however, underestimate their opposition. Rinaldi has named three debutants in her quartet, all of whom will be keen to prove themselves on the biggest stage in women’s team tennis.
Alison Riske is the only member of last year’s winning team to make the journey to Prague, with Danielle Collins, Sofia Kenin and Nicole Melichar all set to make their Fed Cup debuts this weekend. Inexperienced though the team may be, their talent is not in short supply, with Collins and Kenin both fixtures in the world’s Top 50, while Melichar is a Top 20 doubles player.
But perhaps more important than the personnel is the camaraderie that Rinaldi seems to engender within her teams. The players may be different, but the philosophy is likely to stay the same.
“I make it about the players. They’re the ones competing for their country,” Rinaldi explained after the semifinals in April. “I try to bring organisation, experience, preparation, lots of homework. I have a great coach in Lisa Raymond – and having fun is an element too.”
It has been a strategy that has worked for Rinaldi in her two years as Fed Cup captain so far – but facing the Czechs in Prague is unquestionably their toughest test yet.
Alex Adewale and Kafayat Omisore emerged champions of the men’s and women’s singles of the Puma ITF Wheelchair Tennis Futures in Abuja over the weekend.
The winning outing marked a glorious return of Nigeria to the international stage after a few years of absence due to financial challenges.
Adewale, a London 2012 Paralympian defeated Kenyan top seed, Peter Naveh 6-1, 6-0 while Omisore also got the better of Jane Ndenga of Kenya 6-3, 7-6 (3).
Prior to the final on Saturday at the National Tennis Centre, Package B, National Stadium, Abuja, Adewale had paired two-time Paralympian Wasiu Yusuf to claim the doubles title at the expense of Kenyan duo of Peter Naveh and Collins Omonde while Omisore also teamed up with Kemi Oluwasegun to beat Ndenga, who paired Nigerian Foluke Shodehinde, to clinch the women’s doubles crown of the $3, 000 prize-money event.
Former NTF president, Engr. Sani Ndanusa, who facilitated the tournament and also footed the bills of the players, pledged to ensure that Nigeria consolidates on the success recorded in the tournament stressing that the resounding success ensured Nigeria reclaimed its status as a leading force in the sport in Africa.
He hinted that the players would be motivated to ensure they put up a similar display at the African Championship billed for Accra Ghana in February 2019.
The Nigerian team was represented by 10 male and 5 female players with all but Adewale and Yusuf making their debut in international tournament.