…As organisers increases prize money to N7m
From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, and the Chairman, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, have commended the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for sponsoring the NCC Tennis Cup.
The two eminent Nigerians who spoke after declaring the event open over the weekend at the Tennis courts, Package B of the Abuja National Stadium, promised to contribute in hunting for talents at the grassroots.
According to Senator Egba; “The NDDC is planning to key into using sports to arrest youth restiveness. We have just started the process and in no distance time, it will kick off. I want to commend the NCC for sustaining this tournament.”
Similarly, the Director of the International Tennis Academy (ITA), Godwin Kienka, has revealed that the NCC has decided to increase the prize money to enable the players attend some international circuits in African counties.
Kienka stressed that already the prospect of the tennis in Nigeria is very bright going by the quality attention the sports now attracts, adding that the prize money has been increased to N7 million for the winner while the runner-up will pocket N5 million naira.
The third and fourth places will equally attract the sum of N3 and N2 million naira respectively.
While enumerating the developmental plans for Nigerian tennis, Kienka said that already the NCC and Nigerian Tennis Federation (NTF) championships have been endorsed for ranking by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). “This tournament is helping in attracting sponsorship for players. Also it is increasing by each year from eight cities in 2015, we progressed to 10 in 2016 and this year we are having 14 cities with the inclusion of Owerri, Ibadan, Jos and Ado-Ekiti.
“The prize money has also increased, the idea behind this is to make it easy for the winners to attend some circuits in some African countries to increase their ATP ranking. In the last two years, we have eight players ranked and two of them have moved few steps on the ladder.
“Tennis is lie when you plant an orange, tree it takes time to germinate and grow and when it grows you will now appreciate it. Look at Britain who for past 77 years never won a major title but today they have Andy Murray who is number one.”
This year’s tournament which will go round the designated cities will end in December in Lagos.