“Marylove, I’m in love with your game,” is one of the chants that fill the air anytime Marylove Edwards, 11-years-old tennis player scores a point or puts up a dazzling display during games.
Marylove who travelled alongside other tennis players to Casablanca, Morocco, to feature in the 2016 ITF/CAT 12 & Under Talent Identification Programme with over 80 players from 25 countries returned to Nigeria as Africa’s number three seed in the U-12 category.
Ranked the 10th in Africa, in the girls’ 14 and under category after just three tournaments, Marylove has won virtually every title at stake in the country, in her category. The most recent was winning last year’s U-14 CBN Junior Tennis Championship and the NNPC Junior Tennis Masters.
Born on March 18, 2005, Marylove who started playing tennis at age four resides in the Agege suburb of Lagos with her family.
Prior to playing tennis, Marylove started out as an athlete but her father who is also a sportsman and her teacher discovered she couldn’t withstand the harshness of the tracks.
Using the racket when she first started out was not easy because of her frail stature; however, she managed to carry it well.
Inspired by world females dominating tennis and astonished that there is no Nigerian amongst them, Marylove’s father decided to train his daughter became the best in what she was doing.
Although, it came with serious challenges like funding and lack of facilities and tournaments in the country, Marylove’s father didn’t give up as he equips himself by getting videos especially from the US, where he gets guidelines on how to coach and train her.
Good luck shone on the Edwards family, when Marylove’s outstanding performances caught the attention of the Temple Management Company, afirm involved in the entertainment, sports, media and art sectors.
This partnership has made things, such as funding, training and travelling to tournaments easy for Marylove.
Meanwhile, combining education with work is a major challenge for Nigerian athletes, but for Marylove, a working plan that accommodates both have been drawn for her.
Although she trains seven times a week sometimes, her social life is not at stake as she’s not restricted from having her own playtime aside from playing tennis.
Marylove who doesn’t have a role model but wants other people to copy her style of play says she doesn’t listen to the shouts of her fans when playing but has her focus on winning.