The Director of International Tennis Academy, Godwin Kienka, has called on the Ekiti and Oyo State Governments to send two outstanding tennis talents – Seun Ogunsakin and Mubarak Ganiyu from Ekiti and Oyo States respectively -to tennis academies in Portugal, France or Spain.
Kienka, whose ITA Junior Circuit of tournaments has provided the platform to discover junior talents in Nigeria said these two boys, aged 14, have the potential to hit the top 50 in the ATP rankings in the next six years, if they are sent to reputable academies now.
“I should know because I have covered every possible aspect of the game of tennis and produced several champions,” Kienka, the first to take a home based player Clara Udofa to compete at the US Open Championships junior event, said.
Clara was the youngest national senior champion at 14, and the first Nigerian to be ranked on the WTA tour in the 600s in her first year of turning professional.
Kienka was also the first black African to qualify as an international tennis official. As a journalist, he had covered all the Grand Slam tournaments, and was publisher and editor of the world famous Tennis Africa Magazine which got an international award.
He said: “Ogunsakin and Mubarak have great potential and luckily for them, Governors Makinde and Bamidele both play and love the game of tennis. But even if they do not, they owe it to their State and the nation to help these boys realise their full potential. The money the States will spend on the boys will be nothing compared to the glory and prize monies they will bring to this country if they succeed as I am sure they would.” Kienka said.
“I would recommend the Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy by Movistar in Spain because Ogunsakin has the style and mannerisms of the famous owner, who I am sure will fall in love with him. Or, the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in Paris, where Serena Williams works out. I am sure we can use our network to get the best possible discounts.”
Ogunsakin and Ganiyu are the most promising juniors in Nigeria. Ogunsakin last March won the boys 14 and 16 titles at the CBN Junior Tennis Championships getting an education grant of N200, 000 for that achievement. Ganiyu was finalist in the 14s and has since made tremendous progress including one win over Ogunsakin.
Both players will get a chance to showcase their talent when the maiden edition of the Sapetro Futures Championship, a new addition to the ITA Junior Tennis Circuit, kicks off at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club next week. The tournament will feature competitions in boys and girls 10s, 12s, 14s and 16s.