*It gives me great feeling to be ranked 4th in Nigeria
By Olajide Fashikun
According to the latest ranking of the Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF) mercurial youngster, 11-year old prodigy, Marylove Edwards, is now ranked 4th in the women category, a development which thrilled her.
The 2017 finalist in this year’s Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) final rose from the blues of the nation’s top ranked senior players to the 4th position after upsetting better ranked senior players to get to the final.
Her reaction to the latest NTF ranking is, “Being ranked No.4 in the senior category of female tennis in Nigeria is a great feeling.”
So much of tennis fairy tales seem set to be written in the near future with the recent entrance of Edwards to the senior category.
Self-confident, tough-talking and incurably optimistic on-and-off the courts, the 11-year-old tennis sensation is on the path to becoming Nigeria’s next big thing in the sport.
Responding after the CBN startling feat becoming the youngest Nigerian to play in the highly rated tourney, she wrote on one of her social media planks: “I thank God for everything, I thank the fans and I love them. My focus is always on winning every game; I don’t really listen to the shouts of the fans when I’m playing.”
Born on the 18th March, 2005, Miss Marylove Edwards started playing tennis at the age of four. Incidentally, she started out in athletics but her father discovered that his daughter couldn’t withstand the harshness of the tracks.
“I’m a sportsman, so I had plans for her before she was even born. I actually wanted her to be a sprinter but I discovered that she was always gasping for breath after races, so I changed to Plan B, which is tennis,” Eddy said.
Asked who her real model was, she replied bullishly, “I don’t really have a role model, I’m myself, I want people to imitate and copy my style of play.”
Edwards has won virtually every title at stake in the country in her category. The most recent was winning this year’s U-14 CBN Junior tennis championship. She won it last year too. She added the NNPC junior tennis masters.
Marylove Edwards has made tremendous impact at the ITF/CAT West and Central Africa junior championships.
It would be recalled that last year, she defeated Nigeria’s number one seed, Sarah Adegoke, at an exhibition match at the NCC League at Ikoyi Club.
“I’m courageous because I know I’m going to be a future champion; so, I can beat anybody. The way I play, I am confident I can get there,” Edwards added.
Edwards’ coach, Kayode Savage, who started coaching her since she was four, is impressed with the player’s progress. “Marylove copes well after a defeat. After a game, I ask how she feels and from her feedbacks, we get what we will work on in her next training,” Savage said.
“When I first saw her, I observed that she was very strong and determined. So I told myself ‘if I can concentrate more on her training, she might be the next tennis star’ and there is a tremendous progress. Last year, she was ranked 10th in Africa in the girls’ 14 and under category after just three tournaments. The target is to get her to the WTA Circuit and the Grand Slams.”
She’s just 4ft 6in. African tennis officials were astonished by the 11-year-old’s sublime silky skills and how she easily dispatches her opponents. They probably didn’t believe that a girl of her age from the continent could be that immensely talented.
“I played in the girls U-12 category but I wanted to play in U-14 category but they didn’t allow me because of my age. I won the U-12 event easily; I was winning the games 6-0, so I wanted a tougher category,” she said.