A 12 Year Old Nigerian Just Made History In Tennis Championship
On the 2nd day of June 2017, 12 year old Nigerian, Marylove Edwards made history by being the youngest player to partake in the final of the Central Bank of Nigeria Senior Tennis Championship. Edwards who just returned from a one week training at the IMG Tennis Academy -a boarding and sport training destination in Bradenton, Florida -beat her opponent Blessing Samuel in a 2 hour 50 minute long match.
The giant stride of the 12 year old girl however takes on even larger significance when one discovers that she had grown up in the near slums of Lagos, on Bankole Street, Agege and in a convivial two room home with her family. Her father, being himself a sportsman had thus desired that his child would be one. When this child came and undeterred by her sex, he went on to bring his lofty visions to fruition.
Edwards had first started off as an athlete, sprinting long distances egged on by a determined parent. Her father had however noticed that she gasped for breath during these races and realizing she would not blossom in that aspect -or any other that had to do with great distances -he resorted to tennis.
This new resolution had nevertheless come with its own challenges, the racket had been a little too weighty for the frail girl to carry, there were not enough facilities easily accessible to a child from the slums with great dreams, few tennis tournaments existed in the country, but the duo forged on nonetheless.
About a decade after that decision was made and the 4 feet, 6 inch tennis player has proven that she is determined to strive higher than her little beginning. Edwards has literally won every possible title in the country for her category and a sizeable number outside the country as well. She also recently drew the attention of Temple Management Company, an event firm -which manages Don Jazzy and Funmi Iyanda – that saw to the actualization of her Florida trip and promises to aid her participation at international tournaments.
Nick Bolletieri, IMG Founder who has trained 10 tennis world No. 1s including the William sisters Andre Agassi, Monica Seles described Edwards as a ‘Super Athlete,’ praising her double-handed style and acknowledging that it was a rare feat in the tennis world.
The two room apartment of Edwards home is decorated with her medals and souvenirs of her victory, what her fans consider to be a tip of the iceberg of what’s coming and maybe they’re indeed right.
For the 12 year old Nigerian girl from Agege has walked the hallowed hallways of the IMG Tennis Academy, played in a court that one time held sport stars, Brady Aiken, John Ryan Murphy and maybe, just maybe she is set on similar path, maybe she has stacked bits of them in her soul, maybe she is a ball of success and confetti waiting to explode.