The city of Lagos will come alive from Monday, October 8 to 22, 2016 when different foreign nationals will be in the country to jostle for $100,000 (N47.6million) at the 16th edition of the Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis championship.
The Governor’s Cup is the most recognised ITF Futures in west and central Africa, and it attracts players from all over the world, especially from Europe, who come to the country to pick points to participate in bigger tournaments in other parts of the world.
To herald the commencement of this year’s tournament, the local organising committee of the Governor’s Cup noted that despite the recession in the country, they have decided to increase the prize money from its previous $80,000.
Some of the foreign players at the 15th edition of the tournament. Photo: Emmanuel Osodi.
During the press briefing that took place at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan-Lagos on Wednesday, October 5, Pius Akinyelure, the LOC chairman, noted that the organisers are also looking forward to improving the tournament to a Challengers before upgrading it to a Grand Slam (Lagos Open).
“The singular action, the increase, has not cemented the GCLT in the number one position in Futures tournaments in Africa, Asia and South America, it is also the final step towards upgrading GCLT to the Challenger Series. This level with its attendant economic and commercial benefits gels into the future of Lagos as a Mega City.
“We will be moving from an ITF tournament to a Professional Tennis Association (PTA)… only a step away from the ultimate in Tennis, the Tennis Open.
The tournament umpire from South Africa is most likely to be present at this year’s championship. Photo: Emmanuel Osodi.
“It also means entry of a higher number of higher ranked players from all over the world with a corresponding increase in the influx of tourists.
“There are numerous other benefits in infrastructual development, equipment upgrade, sports development grants, TV rights, franchising, among others,” Chief Akinyelure stated.
The secretary of the Nigerian Tennis Federation (NTF), Mrs Gloria Ekwempu, in an exclusive chat with our correspondent, informed that players from about 39 countries from all over the world have indicated their interest in attending the two-legged tournament.
She said: “Players from European countries, from Brazil, Egypt, India, Zimbabwe, South Africa, among others, have indicated their interest in participating in the tournament already.
“From the last time we checked, there were entries from about 39 countries for participation in the event. You know we just increased the prize money, this may be one of the reasons we have a lot of top players trying to get in here to play the prestigious tournament.
“From our part, we shall do our best to ensure we host another great championship and give the foreigners and locals so many things to cheer when they leave the country.”
Meanwhile, teenage tennis sensation, Angel McCleod, tops the list of Nigerian players who will be getting wild cards to participate in the main draws while Christian Paul, a former national junior champion, is the only Nigerian who made it to the main draws based on his ranking points.
The tournament director, Prince Wale Oladunjoye categorically expressed his excitement with the continuous hosting of the championship, while promising that improvements on the hosting would be witnessed in the coming years.
“Hopefully, we can have the Lagos Open anytime soon because that is exactly what we are targeting with the Governor’s Cup.
“We are happy with our sponsors for keeping faith with us, and we believe that more of them will come when they see how far we have gone with the hosting of the tournament,” he said excitedly.
Antal Van Der Duim from Netherlands defeated Takanyi Garanganga from Zimbabwe in the men singles category at the 2015 edition of the tournament, and both players will be expected to renew their rivalry when hostilities resume later in October.