By Amaechi Agbo
Nigerian number tennis player, Thomas Otu has said that tennis players in the country need sponsorship for them to excel in tennis tournaments in the country and beyond.
Otu stated this yesterday when he lost to Austra player and 2018 Dayak Championship Open, Maxilimilian Nuechrist in the first round at the ongoing GSL Open in Abuja.
Otu who put up a good display in the game but lost 6-3, 6-4 to Nuechrsist attributed his defeat to lack of training and exposure but expressed hope that with the right sponsorship, Nigerian tennis players could win the championship next year.
“I was nervous at the first set, my game was slow but I had to convince myself to play the game so I picked up. There is nothing to lose, I put in my best but it was not good enough.
“I trained hard and re
ally wanted to win the match. I wanted to set a record. I believe that when I go out and play in more competitions, I will be able to beat him next year.
“Nigerian tennis players don’t go beyond the first round because we don’t have people to take us to more competitions outside the country. That is what we need. If we have sponsors that can take us to competitions outside Nigeria, we will win the competition next year.
“But there is nobody to encourage us. It was not easy for us because we don’t have anybody that will give us even the ball to train with not to talk about the string; we don’t have anybody, we are just trying our best on our own. Tennis is expensive.
“We need sponsors to take players outside the country. Also, let the administrators do the right thing by not choosing players based on tribe; let them play trials and the best among them should be taking outside the country to play more tournaments so that by next year we can win this competition,” Otu concluded.
On his part, Maxilimilian Nuechrist said he was shocked by Thomas Otu’s display which he never expected. He described him as great player with future if he could get the needed exposure to help him develop his career.
“I started very well but what happened later I don’t know. Maybe a wrong foot somewhere, I don’t know. Probably I did not expect him to play that well. There is also the probability that towards the end he lost a little bit of focus and was pushing every ball to the line which was very wrong.
He is good enough to compete at any level he just need more experience. But it is not easy playing him especially when the fans are against you,” he said.
Otu’s sponsor, Hon. Bekeakpo Etifa, said he would do everything possible to support Otu in his tennis career. “This is a man that does not train and the environment is very harsh to him in terms of development. I have taken it as a personal project to sponsor him to any level.
He is a future star in tennis and I am ready to take up that responsibility. I was impressed by his play this evening. He needs to be encouraged and I am ready for that,” he said.