The road that leads to victory for any passionate sports lover is to follow through with a very dedicated role model. For me growing up it was through my late uncle, Mr. Awopegba who happened to be a National Tennis Champion and coach. He was fondly called “The Cannon Ball of Africa in the late 60’s.
Through his mentoring, I’d acquired the passion and the skills needed to align my steps and follow through with the fundamentals of the sports. My youthful excitement seeing all the medals and trophies displayed in his living room, rewarding days of training at the National Stadium and playing at Lagos Lawn Tennis Club have all prepared my mind for the outcome of the victories behind the US open finest players, and their history of triumph.
So, there were several firsts at the US Open Tennis tournament in Queens NY this September; Cici Bellis became the youngest player to win a match at the tournament at the age of 14, and the youngest American to win a match at the US Open since Mary Joe Fernandez….. I can go on and on about her firsts, but I will be doing some injustice to Kei Nishikori of Japan who after playing two earlier matches in the tournament that lasted over 8 hours, stunned the tennis world by defeating the world number one tennis player and current Wimbledon champion in just under 3 hours and become the first male from his country and indeed Asia to reach a Grand Slam final in modern era tennis.
Nishikori heaped a lot of praises on his coach Michael Chang who himself was the youngest male player to win a Grand Slam championship in 1989 when he won the French Open at the age of 17.
Serena Williams also joined an elite group of women by winning her 18th grand slam tournament and looks on to challenge Steffi Graf who has 22 Grand Slam under her belt. Serena has always attributed her success to family support from her parents and siblings especially Venus, another champion in her own right.
The most enthralling story of the just concluded US Open is that of Marin Cilic from Croatia who last April tested positive for the stimulant Nikethamide contained in some glucose tablets bought by his mother. He denied any foul play but was banned from the game for 9 months later reduced to 4, as the Court of Arbitration for Sports although accepted he accidentally ingested the substance but did not fully exonerate him.
Marin Cilic said he had lost motivation after the ban but with the help of his coach Goran Ivanisevic, a former Wimbledon Champion he says he was able to go out there and have fun again. After the win he stated, “I feel it’s very inspirational for all the other players out there that are working hard and sometimes losing motivation,” “I would definitely feel much stronger if I would see somebody like me accomplish things like this.” He also went on to say that “It’s all hard work from the last several years,” he said. He added that his team had taught him to have fun while playing and that he’d had the best time of his life during this tournament.
So, for all of us out there who have had set backs and are currently lacking some motivation, surround yourselves with the right people who exude positive vibes and show interest and belief in you. Most of all prayers and hard work can make a whole lot of difference.
Written by: Kevin Lawrence
Edited by #Moving Forward With Yinka