Saturday, 1 July 2017

WEEKEND SPECIAL: Becoming Nigeria's No. 1 Is A Dream Come True - Sylvester

Sylvester Emmanuel became Nigeria's number one male tennis player by virtue of his recent performances, even though he did not win the recently-concluded Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Senior Tennis Open.

The disappointment of losing out in the quarter final was enormous that the player vowed to bounce back immediately.
Behold the new 'pride' of Nigerian tennis.
In this EXCLUSIVE chat with Naija Tennis Special, the Spain-based tennis star speaks on his status as Nigeria's latest number player and how long he hopes to maintain this post.

Excerpts:

You were recently named Nigeria's number one male tennis player, how did you receive this news?

How else can one receive such news? I was very delighted and I am still very happy to become Nigeria's top tennis player. It means a lot to me and my career.

Sylvester who led Team Offikwu to glory in the NCC League last season, is still hungry for more national success.
With the recent announcement, you have successfully stepped into your brother's shoes. Did you ever dream of a day like this?

To be very honest, becoming Nigeria's number one player was a childhood dream for me. So, it feels like a dream come true if you ask me. It is no mean feat to be Nigeria's number one player so when it is your turn, you enjoy it and maximize it to the fullest.

For how long do you think you can maintain the number one spot?

That will be difficult to tell right now, I really do not know. But then, we shall see about it and see how long I can be on top of the log.

What do you make of the three-week long ITF Futures in Nigeria in Abuja?

It was a great experience for me, at least, it helped me put to proper use most of the things which I have learnt in my stay abroad. I played okay, not so good with the results that I had in the Singles. But the Doubles was good as I got to the final and semifinals. I really wanted the Singles to be like that but it did not happen that way.

The man fondly called MAJOR is eyeing another top spot before the end of the year.
It was a really good experience for me because I learnt a lot from the tournament. Hopefully, I can build on the things that I picked from the tournament and make use of them in subsequent competitions.

You also played the ITF Futures in Zimbabwe after the CBN Open?

Yeah, I became ill suddenly during the tournament and had to retire in the first round. I hope to bounce back even better pretty soon. I had set a semifinal target prior to the tournament but the illness slowed me down.

But then, I do not have control over my body system, so I hope to get better to playing some good tennis soon.

The disappointment of losing out at the last ITF Futures in Nigeria is more like a blessing to the young champ.
How have the ITF Futures you have participated in this year helped your game?

It has helped me a lot. It has helped me meet the best guys on the tour, I have also improved on my game when compared with how I started this year. The experience is invaluable and it has really opened my eyes to a lot of things.

Do you have any word for your sponsors?

I will like to thank Rainoil for the privilege to be under their sponsorship. It is an opportunity that I have been looking for since 2014. With this opportunity that I have now, I promise to utilize it, make the best out of it and make them proud.

What's your target before the end of this year?

To be among the top 500 in the world and I believe in that. I said the same thing last year, but it didn't happen, but I believe it will happen this year.