*You owe me a special tennis gift when I come in July
Nigeria’s most celebrated and successful athlete in tennis, Nduka Duke Odizor has expressed deep joy in my heart reading about Marylove Edwards, a 12 year old doing well to have defeated the nation’s number 3 and 5 on her way to the final which she lost the final 6-0, 6-3.
Nduka Odizor who called from his Houston base in America said, “I specially commend Marylove Edwards. Please tell her, I am so proud of her. I commend her coaches. She is a future champion. I see in her a great authority on world tennis in the nearest future.
The Duke added, “This is a good development for her as this will tremendously boost her confidence. She started at the right age and she is doing so great. For instance, when you see her use the two hands on both sides of the racket, it shows she was quite small when she started and can hardly hold a racket. That is what she had mastered. She owes me a special tennis gift when I come in July.”
12-year-old, Marylove Edwards, created history playing in the final of the 2017 Central Bank of Nigeria Senior Tennis championship. She became the youngest ever player to appear in the final of the flagship event
The junior player, who came into the tournament as a wildcard, set up an epic final against Nigeria number two seeded 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, 2nd June 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.”
MaryLove had earlier won the CBN Junior Tennis championship in March this year.
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.
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.