Every year, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Junior Tennis Championship produces players for the future which the organisers have repeatedly informed, is one of the goals of the tournament.
This year’s edition is no exception, as a young Kaduna-based tennis prodigy has already shown flashes of greatness with his mastery of the game. He is Abubakar Hayat.
Hayat is a 10year- old student, who started playing tennis just over two years ago, but he already has the heart of a world beater.
Sighting him while knocking with one of the coaches from Kaduna, the petit player showed technical awareness on the court and would not easily forgive himself whenever he hits the ball too hard or less hard.
Even during his matches, despite his initial loss, the budding star was hitting his strokes almost perfectly which many already see as a sign of great things to come for the newly-discovered talent.
The southpaw (left-handed) player, who is always seen with his coach Mohammed Ubale, is a Junior Secondary School, JSS 1 student who follows a laid down schedule by his coach to be able to accommodate his tennis classes alongside his academics.
“I go to school from 7am-2pm and from 4pm-6pm, I go for training with my coach. This is how I have been doing since I started playing tennis in 2013,” the rather shy youngster said.
“My parents allow me to play tennis and I love the game a lot. I know Federer, Nadal, Berdych, Djokovic and other top players who play on the world tours.
“I really like watching Nadal because I play like him and the fact that we are both left-handed makes it easier for me to learn a few tricks from him,” he stated.
Asked if he had participated in any tournament prior to the CBN Junior Tennis Championship, Hayat quickly shook his head, adding: “I have played at the Kaduna Club before but this is my first time of playing a tournament.”
His coach, Ubale, stated emphatically- after being sighted with the young talent- that “we are working to make him a world star.
“He is very talented and the fact that he has serious passion for tennis makes the work easier for us.
“However, we are still working on him because he needs consistent training and close monitoring if he must attain the top spot we want him to clinch in the next few years.”
Like most top players in the world who are being aided by their personal coaches, Ubale insists that he has a contract with Hayat’s parent to ensure that the player rises to the top.
The widely travelled ITF-certified national junior tennis coach believes that the player needs to be tutored the right way, hence the agreement of a ‘life contract’ with the parents to ensure a close-range monitoring.
“I have only been with him for six months and I am really excited and highly impressed with the prospects he has shown already.
“I agreed with his parents to be with him for as long as the world exists and I believe that will further strengthen his ambition to surpass the achievements of world’s top stars like Nadal, who is his role model,” Ubale informed.
Already, most observers who were present at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, LLTC, Onikan, Lagos on Monday, when the junior tournament served off, think he is the next big thing in Nigerian tennis.
And in what looked like a disappointment to those were already tipping Hayat to shine at this year’s event, the youngster lost his first match, but he felt unperturbed afterwards.
He believes that he will one day match the lofty dreams which his daily observation of the top stars make him conceive.
“I want to play like Nadal, but I want to be even better. That is the best I hope to be and I am sure that one day I will become the very best tennis player in the world,” Hayat said amid shy smiles.
With the whole world watching and all eyes staring at this new entrant into Nigerian tennis, many will hope he does not end as one of those players with so much promise who end up not realising their full potentials.
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