On Saturday, October 14, the first set of winners of the Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis championship emerged after one week of play.
Pedja Krstin of Serbia defeated Stephan Fransen of the Netherlands in straight sets 6-2, 6-3 to emerge winner of the men’s singles title in the ITF Pro-Circuit tournament.
Earlier in the day, Israeli youngster Deniz Khazaniuk rallied from a set down to defeat Switzerland’s Conny Perrin 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 to take the women’s singles title in her first appearance in Lagos.
The pair of Ana Veselinovic (Montenegro) and Ayla Aksu (Turkey) won the women’s doubles title against Perrin and Valeriya Strakhova (Ukraine) while twins Ivan and Matej Sabanov of Serbia won the men’s doubles title against the French duo of Tom Jomby and Johan Sebastien Tatlot.
As the trophy presentations took place, players knelt beside the boldly written LAGOS sign at the edge of the court to pose with their trophies with photographers and video crews on hand to record the beautiful moments in the lives of these players.
As many tennis stars have passed through the Governor’s Cup since it was started 17 years ago in 2000, many have gone on to become top players on the ATP and WTA tours.
However, with the players posing beside the LAGOS sign on Saturday, it signposts their pathway through our city for all of history.
Several of the players have since posted the images on their social media accounts, thereby giving the Lagos circuit a lot of visibility and prominence.
Both Krstin and Khananiuk posted the photos on their Instagram pages while Aksu posted on her Twitter account. The Turkish Tennis Federation, as well as Turkish media, have also picked up on the image that has been shared on several other platforms.
— Ayla Aksu (@AylaAksu6) October 14, 2017
— Tenis Federasyonu (@TTForgtr) October 14, 2017
Lagos appearing in the photos of these young winners helps to put the brand out there and ensure that many more young players would be looking to come and play for the $25,000 prize money on offer.
While Nigerian players have not been good enough to stand up to the quality shown by many of the visiting players, their experience has certainly been enriched by the opportunity to compete against some of the best young players in the world.
The hope of organisers would be that a Nigerian player steps up to the plate soon to win the title in order to create a local buzz and shake off the apathy that has kept the stands mainly empty.
— CampsBay Sport Media (@CampsBayMedia) October 15, 2017
Success will bring local fans to the Lagos Lawn Tennis Courts. Just like we saw of the Israeli community in Lagos that turned up in large numbers to cheer Khazaniuk to victory against Perrin in the women’s final.
The Governor’s Cup is trailing a blaze running for almost two decades non-stop. It needs to start doing more with the Lagos brand.
Success for local players could be the turning point. But how long would one have to wait?
So we will have to do with the branding of Lagos as a city for sport, a home for young tennis stars.
The F2 leg of the Governor’s Cup 2017 runs until October 21 at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan, opposite the Tafawa Balewa Square. Tickets can be purchased at the gate or online at Naijaticketshop.com or Ariiyatickets.com