The Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Saturday said the State Government will fully support the setting up of a Lawn Tennis Academy in the State that would make the annual Lagos Open International Tennis Championship attract the global attention that it truly deserves.
Governor Ambode said this at the finals of the 2018 Lagos Open Championship held at the Lawn Tennis Club in Onikan, Lagos.
He said the State Government has held talks with the State’s Lawn Tennis Association to open up an academy with state-of-the-art facilities that would attract world class players in future competitions.
He said: “This is the beginning of the support that Lagos State will continue to give to Lagos Open. The whole idea is for us to be able to move away from this particular location and set up a Lawn Tennis Academy that can actually have an upgrade of a world class competition.
“They have actually spoken to us that we need to open an academy. You see, what we have here on this ground is just seven courts, but if you want it to be globally attended and we want this Lagos Open to be globally competitive, we need an academy that would have like 16 courts and have other facilities to attract world class players and that is what Lagos is ready to partner with the association and because we want the name Lagos on the world map, Lagos State Government has to support the idea of a lawn tennis academy and that is where we are going.”
The Governor commended the organisers and officials of the Lawn Tennis Association for sustaining the tradition, adding that the State Government was proud to be partners in progress with the 18-year old competition, which was called The Governors Cup before it metamorphosed to the Lagos Open.
Ambode said: “I want to clearly say that I have enjoyed this particular tournament and I don’t think I have actually sat down somewhere for three hours in a long while. I want to congratulate the winners and also commend the officials and organisers and anytime anywhere, I would always come around because I am a lover of lawn tennis.”
Earlier, the Governor displayed his tennis skills when he took part in a demonstration match as part of activities at the championship.
Ambode, who played against the tennis captain of the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan, specifically showed some of his drop shot, backhand and top spin skills, with the spectators applauding while the match lasted.
Presenting an award of special recognition to Ambode, the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee of the Lagos Open, Chief Pius Akinyelure, said the Association deemed it fit to recognise the Governor for his “enviable, untiring and significant support in the last few years towards the success of the competition”.
In the exciting Lagos Open Men’s final match, Jack Draper of Great Britain defeated Tom Jomby from France to emerge winner of the competition.