In the beginning, way back more than a century ago, The Lagos Lawn Tennis Club was the exclusive tennis hangout and watering hole of Nigeria’s colonial masters, located conveniently in the backyard (connected by a gate) of the chief representative of the British in Colonial Nigeria – the Governor General. The Lagos Lawn Tennis Club (LLTC 1895) which celebrated its 120 years of existence in 2015 as the foremost and oldest sports and recreation club in West Africa, boasts of a pedigree as rich and coveted in scope and quality as its enviable age.
Founded by Lord Frederick Lugard in 1895, The Club predates the creation of the modern Nigerian nation in 1914 with the Amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates. Invariably, in a colonial setting, the club, located in central Lagos had an all white membership with its first seven (7) Presidents being mainly the incumbent Governor General at different points in time.
These early leaders of the club were:
- Lord Frederick Lugard 1914 – 1919
- Sir Hugh Clifford 1920 – 1930
- Sir Donald Cameron 1931 – 1935
- Sir Bernard Bourdillon 1935 – 1943
- Sir Arthur Richard 1946 – 1950
- Sir John Macpherson 1951 – 1954
- Sir James Robertson 1954 – 1957
In 1963, the first Nigerian, Justice Onyeama took over the mantle of leadership from the colonial masters, setting the stage for the evolution evolution of the club from a local resort into an internationally acclaimed tennis centre which has produced national and continental champions and served as the breeding ground for successive generations as lawn tennis stars.
Indeed, the LLTC is credited with producing the stars who etched Nigeria’s name on the regional, continental and global lawn tennis maps especially in the 70s and 80s. These legendary champions and stars, some of whom are now deceased, include Herbert Bosah Oranye, Thompson Onibokun, Patrick Obi, Walter Obianwu, Mattias Nwabunor, Lawrence Awopegba, the duo of Tunde Oremule and Capt. Yemisi Allan (now Trustees of the LLTC), Kehinde Ajayi, Joseph Njoku Obi, David Imonitie, Nduka Odizor and others. For more than a decade in the aforementioned decades, the players that dominated the Nigerian and sub regional tennis landscape were products and members of the LLTC.
The LLTC hosted local and international tournaments, as well as top tennis celebrities especially in the 70s and 80s including the former Arthur Ashe – the first black man selected into the United States Davis Cup team, John McEnroe, former World Number 1 Professional Tennis Player, Stan Smith, Thomas Muster as well as multiple grand Slam winners, the famous Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, who dominated women’s tennis (the WTA Tour) far more than any sisters in history. Serena Williams remains the world’s No. 1 Female Professional Tennis player at the time of this publication.
In the past two decades, the flagship tournament of LLTC has been the Governor’s Cup, an International Tennis Federation (ITF) certified tournament that attracts tennis stars from Africa and other continents and is sponsored in the main by the Lagos State Government on behalf of State Governor who is the patron of LLTC.
The Lagos Lawn Tennis Club has transformed over the past century into a first class tennis facility with nine courts including a centre court. The LLTC boasts of the best tennis arena in the country, ultramodern stands and facilities for Squash, Billiard, and Snooker, Table Tennis, Dart and Other Games (e.g Ayo, Draft etc).
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I love the winning, I can take the losing, but most of all I love to play.