John Atiomo will captain Nigeria in the Davis Cup the Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF) has announced.
The newly-announced Davis Cup captain was a former player who represented Nigeria in the competition during his playing days.
He was part of Nigeria’s Davis Cup team in 1987 and 1988. In 1987, he also competed as a member of the Nigerian contingent at the All Africa Games in Nairobi, Kenya.
Atiomo holds the joint-record for the longest-ever match in terms of games and points in Nigeria’s Davis Cup history when he and Tony Mmoh teamed up to defeat the Ivorian pair of Clement N’goran and Jean-Amihiaka Koffi 7-9, 1-6, 6-2, 9-7, 15-13 in an epic doubles rubber in March, 1987 in Abidjan.
During his active years, Atiomo who hails from Benin was ranked in the top-3 in Nigeria and the top-10 in Africa in 1988.
The new Davis Cup captain acknowledged the quality of Nigeria’s senior players but emphasised the need to refocus on the grassroots.
“We will have to start from the grassroots again, but these crop of players right now are trying their best considering the environment,” he said.
Nigeria is set to compete in the Davis Cup in a less than a month where they will contend with seven other African nations for promotion in the Davis Cup.
The event has been scheduled for the clay courts of the Nairobi Club in Kenya, and Atiomo noted that although Nigeria’s players will need to adjust to the slow surface, the experience of playing on a similar surface at the ongoing 12th African Games is cause for optimism.
“They will need to understand that clay court requires a lot of patience because you have to build your points carefully on the surface,” he explained.
“It’s a good thing that tennis at the African Games will be staged on clay. I have observed a few players during the African Games camping and I’m very optimistic ahead of the Davis Cup.”