March 2010 -- USPTA Tennis Professional Abdul Idi, certified in 1993, has worked as a full-time tennis professional at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis since 1998. A native of Nigeria, Idi grew up in the small town of Wukari, which is in the state of Taraba in northern Nigeria. He was a soccer, badminton, and pingpong player as a kid - that is until the local tennis coach, Dauda Mamman, who is now director of sports for Taraba, convinced Idi to try tennis at age 13. There were only two courts in Wukari, but the government subsidized sports coaches. And since there were very few other public tennis courts available in northern Nigeria, the Wukari tennis players, fortunately, received free tennis lessons and tournament opportunities. Idi was one of about 10 local juniors who played seriously. Amazingly, Idi and two others received tennis scholarships after graduating from high school, inspired by their coach, Bulus Hussiani, a former doubles All-American from St. Augustine's College in North Carolina.
The scholarship brought Idi to Livingstone College in North Carolina, where he graduated with a B.S. in 1993. He then moved to Minnesota to pursue a graduate degree at Minnesota State University-Mankato. While completing his M.S. there, he also served as the school's men's and women's tennis coach.
Idi's time is especially devoted to his home across the ocean. He created "Discovering Future Tennis Stars": The Idi Tennis Foundation in 1991. Based in Nigeria, it supports deserving youth players by supplying used equipment and financial assistance for Nigerian tournaments. Each year he sends boxes full of racquets, shoes, and clothing back home. Recently, he began to gather funds for annual scholarships to enable players to further their education at Taraba State Polytechnic, a two-year institution in his hometown of Wukari. While pursuing their education, the junior players can continue their tennis experience at the Wukari public tennis club, all while being able to live at home. This will allow students to expand their education and tennis opportunities at four-year institutions in Nigeria or abroad.
In December 2009, Idi and his family visited Nigeria for three weeks. He brought as much tennis equipment as he could; many of the racquets, shoes, and articles of clothing he delivered were donated by customers at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center and InnerCity Tennis. During his trip, he conducted a four-day junior tennis clinic. More than 45 players participated and, at the end of the session, they received the much-needed free equipment. Also while in Nigeria, Idi participated in an exhibition with the governor of Taraba. In addition, after Idi saw that the stringing machine at the local public club was broken beyond repair, he purchased a used table top stringer and shipped it to the club after he returned to Minnesota!
Idi, who currently lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Jennifer, and son, Jaden, 5, clearly keeps his homeland close to his heart through tennis.