Amazing Story Of 8-year Old Ibadan-born ‘Little Serena’

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    Afeez Lasisi writes after the interesting world of an Ibadan-born 8-year old tennis player who has become a star in the game. 

    After winning the 2022 Sapetro Futures Tennis Championship at Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan, Lagos, Mabubat told her dad that she wants to win “more tournaments like Serena Williams”.

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    Mabubat Rasak, an 8-year-old female tennis player at Ibadan Recreation Club Sabo, caught the eyes of many tennis lovers at Lagos Tennis Club, Onikan where he won the under 10 Sapetro Futures Tennis Championship.

    Her father said she started playing tennis at four-year-old.

    The first notable female tennis player in Oyo State was Sarah Adegoke. Like Mabubat, Sarah’s dad was also his coach and trainer. Sarah started playing tennis at the age of three at Ibadan Recreation Club, Sabo, Ibadan.

    Sarah became the first female tennis player from Ibadan at the age of 20 years old to become Nigeria’s number one female tennis player in 2018. Sarah is in Spain with a Tennis Academy. Rasak told OYOINSIGHT.COM that Sarah has become a big sister encouraging her with tennis kits and training with her whenever she is in Nigeria.

    “The last time she was in Nigeria, she bought tennis kits for her and trained her. It is always a good experience for Mabubat to train with an experienced player like Sarah who has traveled across Africa and Europe to play tennis.”

    Little Serena, as she has been dubbed, while explaining her playing style, said she considers Serena as her idol and prays she meets her one day. “I like watching Serena Williams plays. I want to be like her. I want to win like her.”

    Mabubat who others see her as the next Sarah Adegoke from Ibadan, felt happy playing with her, noting that “Aunty Sarah is a big sister. She said I could become Nigeria’s number like her one day if I train very well.”

    OYOINSIGHT.COM asked Mr Rasak if Sarah’s achievement influences him to choose tennis as a career for her? “Yes”, he said, adding that “All tennis lovers in Oyo State were impressed by what Sarah achieved as a female tennis player from Ibadan. For Sarah to become the first female tennis player to rule female tennis for almost three years from this same club (Ibadan Recreation Club), it means she too can be bigger than Sarah.”

    Rasak is a former Oyo State tennis player and a coach at Ibadan Recreation Club. He represented and won medals at different tournaments for the state. He is also the tennis coach of Oyo State governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde.

    Rasak said he always show her how Serena started to like her. “She loves it when I show her Serena videos when she was like her.”

    He dreams of his daughter winning a grand slam and other major tournaments.

    “I believe if she has the necessary resources, she will not only become Nigeria’s number one, but also a grand slam winner like the US Open. The potential is there; she is passionate about winning more tournaments after she won the Under 10 Sapetro Futures Tennis Championship in Lagos”, her father said.

    After she was presented with the award, she told her dad, “Daddy, I want to win more tournaments. I want to come back to Lagos to play more tournaments. ”

    Rasak said one of the challenges youngsters like her face in the state is the lack of sponsorship and tournaments. “Tennis is an expensive sport”, he said. “It is not for the poor without sponsors. Without sponsors, most of the high-ranking tennis players would have been nobody.

    “Another challenge is there are not enough tennis tournaments for youngsters in Oyo State. Unlike in Lagos where you have championships for kids almost every month. Here, it is once in a while.”

    Rasak commended ‘Seyi Makinde, governor of Oyo State, for his love and contribution to tennis in the state.

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