The inaugural edition of the Rainoil Open Tennis Championship will serve off at the Lagos Country Club, Ikeja Saturday with no fewer than 250 players vying for honours.
The tournament which will end on December 17 will see the Men’s champion getting N500,000 while the Women’s Singles winner will pocket N350,000. The Men will also compete in the doubles as the main draw of the N3.1m prize-money tournament will get underway on Monday.
Chief Executive Officier Rainoil, Gabriel Ogbechie stated that the tournament is part of the outfit’s contribution to the development of tennis in Nigeria. Ogbechie lamented that the country is blessed with talents in the game but lack of support has counted against them in becoming international stars.
He said, “We have been in support of tennis in Nigeria for over 20 years but in the last few years we have been able to up our commitment by sponsoring more tournaments. We have sponsored the top eight masters for three consecutive years but this is the biggest tournaments we are sponsoring. Support is key to the grooming of talents to stars and we have our heart and passion to the game hence our commitment of resources to aid the development of tennis in Nigeria.”
Ogbechie, who is an ardent tennis fan, disclosed that the objective of the tournament is to encourage professional tennis players stressing that tennis is a good avenue for kids in Nigeria to make a good living and also end poverty. “Professional tennis players earn more than $100m annually and we hope to build talents that can compete at a very high level of the game globally,” he enthused. He added that the choice of the venue which is a clay court facility is to ensure that the local players become an al-rounder as most of the courts in the country are hard surface.
Lagos Country Club President, Tajudeen Akande, who was represented by Chairman of the Tennis Section Arinze Onubogu, commended Rainoil for bringing the tournament for the club promising the sponsors will get real value for committing their resources to the championship. He pledged that all mercenary to ensure a resounding success of the tournament has been put in place.