Gianna Oboniye recently returned from Bolivia’s COPA COSAT (Confederacion Sudamericana de Tenis) U12 competition. She was one of three U12 girls selected to represent Canada, the defending champions at the 12-country tournament.
Gianna is Alberta’s top U12 player. She placed 3rd at Rogers Junior Nationals, is ranked 7th in Canada in singles U12, and is the Canadian U12 outdoor doubles champion with partner Nawal Youssef, also from Alberta.
Gianna described how it felt to play for Canada: “It felt really cool not to be playing for yourself but for your country. There was more pressure though because if you lose you feel really terrible because you are representing your country.”
Photo above: The U12 Canadian boys and girls teams in Bolivia with coaches Nicole McLennan (BC) and Bogdan Grygorenko (Tennis Canada).
The Canadian girls team of Anastasia Kavounov (from Ontario), Gabriella Lindgren (from BC), and Gianna Oboniye (from Alberta) worked their way to the final where they faced off against Chile.
The two singles matches split, one win to Canada, one win to Chile. So it came down to the doubles tie against Chile. Gianna and her partner Anastasia Kavounov clinched the victory to steal first place for Canada in a close 7-6, 6-2 match.
Gianna enjoyed meeting other players from different cultures and with different game styles. “I found it interesting that most of the players had not played on hard court. They’ve played on clay all their lives and had a hard time understanding that we played mostly on hard court in Canada. They also played with a lot of spin, and they could rally for longer periods.”
There were also challenges, like not being able to drink the water or eat the vegetables, and not having her suitcase for four days. But Gianna turned adversity into resolve:
“I was sad about not having my suitcase for four days. But looking back I realize I grew from it because I had to fight from within for my country even though I was having a hard time without my things. I lost my first match. But after that I made up my mind that I had to set aside how I was feeling and play for my country. I did not lose another match after that.”
Gianna is looking forward to more travel in the very near future. In mid-November she will go to New York with Tennis Canada to participate in the USTA-Canada match play camp. She will be joined by her “best tennis buddy, Nawal Youssef” (our other top Alberta U12 girl).
In December she will compete in the Junior Orange Bowl in Florida, one of the largest junior tennis tournaments in the world.
She is also preparing for the move to the U14 division in January:
“I will also be playing the Tennis Alberta U16 Selection Tournament next weekend in Calgary to help prepare me for the new season in January when I will start playing Tennis Alberta U14 tournaments.”
Gianna trains at the Saville Community Sports Centre with coach Corey Stewart.