‘Team Tombim’s Eyes Already On NCC Tennis League Trophy’
Babatunde Abe, a professional tennis coach, returned to Nigeria in 2006 from the USA where he ran a tennis project at Fort Slenning in Minnesota for disadvantaged kids.
Coach Abe, as he is fondly called, started by partnering with the Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF) as a development consultant, helping with junior development programmes.
He then went over to Ekiti State where he worked as a tennis development consultant to the State government. That partnership ended a couple of years ago when the hard working coach relocated to Abuja and hooked up with Edmund Ajoge’s Tombim Foundation to drive a very ambitious programme aimed at producing world class tennis players.
The Tombim Foundation has Moses Michael, Christian Paul and Sarah Adegoke as the star players in the tennis programme and they form the nucleus of the team, which Abe believes should win the inaugural NCC Tennis League.
The league has staked N5 million prize money for the winning team, N3 million for the runners-up, N2 million for third place and N1 million for the fourth place.
I think we have our name (Tombim) already written on the trophy. That is not by any means saying that we are underrating our opponents in the Blue Group or, when we go through to the semis, the others in the White Group.
The players are working very hard and looking forward to every tie,” Abe said. Towards the end of January through March 2015, Moses Michael, who won the Lagos Governor’s Cup in 2014 and Christian Paul, winner of the last National Sports Festival men’s singles, were in Egypt for eight weeks taking part in a circuit of satellite tournaments.
Although they did not pick up any points, the experience became useful at the Tombim Satellite Championship in Abuja, where Michael reached the quarterfinals in the first week and second round in the second.
Paul picked up a couple of points by reaching the second round in the first week. Michael is now the highest ranked Nigerian player at 1239. Paul checks in at 2145. “It’s a great start,” explained Abe, adding, “if you consider that we were in Egypt for eight weeks and got nothing. That is the hard road to the top but once you get on the board the rest is easy.
The NCC Tennis League gives the boys the opportunity and motivation to keep training and working hard and winning it means some more money in the purse of the sponsor to pursue our goals.”
Team Tombim takes on Team Anambra at the Abuja Stadium courts today and tomorrow. “We should not have too much problem going through that one.
Our major challenge in the Blue Group will come from the Civil Defence Team, which parades such great national players like Clifford Enosoregbe, Nonso Madueke, Shehu Lawal and Christie Agugbom.
We shall fight to beat them to secure first place and hopefully make our semifinal against the second placed team from the White Group easier.” That match, which is the final in the round robin phase, will take place in Abuja on the weekend of August 21.
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