TMC’s 12-year old Marylove Edwards sojourns to Florida as she starts Pro Career
Temple Management Company’s Tennis youngster, Marylove Edwards who has dominated the National 14 & under in recent years departed Nigeria on Friday, September 1st for The US and she arrived Florida where she will begin her career as a pro with Nick Bolletieri Tennis Academy popularly known as IMG Academy.
IMG Academy is a boarding school and sport training destination in Bradenton, Florida, United States. The boarding school offers an integrated academic and athletic college preparatory experience across eight sports – baseball, basketball, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, and track & field and cross country. IMG Academy offers camp programs on a year-round basis, serves as a training and competition venue for amateur, collegiate, and professional teams, adults and families, and a host site for a variety of events.
This trip was made possible by Temple Management Company (TMC) who has been supporting the prodigious Junior tennis talent and they have helped in securing sponsorship for her so she can train and play competitions at home and abroad.
Temple Management Company is one of the leading management company in Africa that represents many of Africa’s most acclaimed and pioneering figures in every existing, new and emerging area of entertainment, media and government, including film, television, music, sports, literature, fine arts and live entertainment.
Marylove started her Tennis career at the age of 4 under the guidance of her father, Love Edwards and her trainer, Coach Kayode Savage who is a national Tennis coach. The Tennis sensation started winning laurels at the age of 8 with the CBN Junior Tennis Championships title as her first and that was the beginning of success for the Edo state star.
She has won over 20 trophies within and outside the country and according to her coach, he had made up his mind that she is going to be a project.
“I have been training MaryLove Edwards for the past eight years and that is when she was just four. She was very small at that point, such that she could not hold the racket with one hand, so she has to hold the racket with both hands. She is quite very small. When we started the training, I had made up my mind that she is going to be a project. She won her first tournament, the CBN Junior Tennis Championship, at eight years old. Moreover, that was her first tournament after we have trained her for many years. She won it back to back and went on to win other tournaments in the country. The whole idea was that she would train and go for tournament. When the MaryLove project started, I told her dad, even if it means going to a bank to get a loan, he had to because this was a project and for us to be able to make a mark, no expense should be spared. The idea is that if you must be a champion, you must play among the champions. That is the way it is abroad. The likes of (Roger) Federer, (Novaks) Djokovic, and (Raphael) Nadal knew themselves from the junior category. They have been playing together since age 12, they knew themselves.” said Coach Kayode while speaking with Taiwo Alimi (The Nation).
Nearly having the same story and charisma of American star, Serena Williams, the 12 year old doesn’t want to be compared with the Olympic Gold medalist.
“I love Serena Williams and love to watch her tapes. In-fact, she is my idol, but I don’t want to be called Serena. I am MaryLove Edwards and don’t want to be any other person but MaryLove,”
At her age, she has created a large fan base and a lot of people come to the court to watch and support her. You know them by the way they chant of ‘I love you’ whenever she gets a point and making a love shape with their fingers in support of MaryLove at courtside.
“I love the fact that people now come to the court to see me and that is part of what is driving me to get better. In as much as I don’t want to let them down, I also don’t want to let myself down,” she added.
Marylove who is a student of Bayonle International School is ranked 3rd in Africa age 12 category while in Under 14 category she occupies number 4 in Africa.
At The 2017 Central Bank of Nigeria Senior Tennis Championship, the 12-year-old, Marylove Edwards, made history to become the youngest ever player to appear in the final of the flagship event.
According to TMC she came into the competition as a wildcard, caused major upsets by beating some of the top-seeded players to finish as the first-runner up.
En-route the final of the Championships, the young Nigerian defeated 7th seed, Ronke Akingbade 2-6, 7-5, 6-3, in the round of 16 matches and Deborah Gbadamosi 6-1, 6-0 in the quarter final.
Her semifinal match against No. 3 seed, Blessing Samuel, lasted for 2hours 50mins and she conquered the more experienced player winning the match with 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 .
In the final against Nigeria No.2, Sarah Adegoke, held at the Centre Court of the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, she was beaten by the 20 year-old in two straight sets of 6-0, 6-3.
Marylove’s scintillating performance was not a surprise to many who has followed the youngster progress over the years. Prior to the Championships she was sponsored to the IMG Academy for a one-week training tour by TY Dajuma’s Family Office, UK which gave her the much desired experience she needed to perform well at the Senior Championships and she was accompanied to Florida by her mother, Omolade Edwards, and Koye Sowemimo, Head of Sports, Temple Management Company.
During her tour, IMG founder, 85-year-old Nick Bolletieri who had coached Venus and Serena Williams and eight other world number ones was full of praises for the starlet. The veteran coach gushed that Marylove is very different, a super athlete. Very handy. Only a few can get away with that style.
She’s back at IMG Academy where she will begin her pro career and she will be there for 5 years and it will cost her about 40 million naira as stated by her coach, Kayode Savage in an interview with The Nation.
On August 22nd, Clothing line, EleVen by Venus announced on their Instgram page that Marylove had joined Team EleVen as their first Nigerian ambassador. She is indeed charting her course greatness. The Clothing line is owned by Grand Slam winner Venus Williams. Well done Marylove! We wish you the very best in your quest!