The 2017 Central Bank of Nigeria Senior Tennis Championship is set for a thrilling climax this weekend as a 12-year-old, Marylove Edwards, created history on Friday to become the youngest ever player to appear in the final of the flagship event
The junior player, who came into the tournament as a wildcard, has set up an epic final scheduled to hold on Saturday June 3 at 10 a.m. against Nigeria No.2, Sarah Adegoke, 20, at the Centre Court of the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
Refreshed from a one-week training at the IMG Tennis Academy, Florida, Marylove over-powered tournament No. 3 seed, Blessing Samuel, in a gruelling encounter on Friday, June 2 which ended 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 and lasted 2 hours, 50 minutes.
Speaking after her latest triumph, Marylove said: “I gave this match my best and I commend my senior opponent for putting up a great fight. I have learnt a lot from my recent trip to the IMG Academy in Florida and I hope to continue my winning streak in the final match tomorrow.”
MaryLove had earlier won the CBN Junior Tennis Championship in March this year. If she wins the final on Saturday it would represent an unprecedented double.
On her way to the final of the senior championships, the young Nigerian defeated 7th seed, Ronke Akingbade 2-6, 7-5, 6-3, in the round of 16 matches and Deborah Gbadamosi 6-1, 6-0 in the quarter final on Thursday.
Her one week training at the IMG, which has been an eye-opener, was made possible by her professional handlers, The Temple Management Company, and sponsored by the TY Danjuma Family Office, UK.
While in Florida, veteran tennis coach and IMG founder, Nick Bolletieri, described the Nigerian Under 14 Tennis Champion as a ‘Super Athlete.’ The 85-year-old has trained 10 tennis world No. 1s including the William sisters Andre Agassi, Monica Seles and others.
During a session, Bolletieri singled out Marylove for her unique double-handed style. In his words, Marylove is “very different, a super athlete. Very handy. Only a few can get away with that style.”
She was accompanied to Florida by her mother, Omolade Edwards, and Koye Sowemimo, Head of Sports, Temple Management Company.