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The 1976 Lagos WCT, also known as the 1976 Lagos Tennis Classic, was a men's tennis tournament played on outdoor clay courts at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club in Lagos, Nigeria.[2] The event was part of the 1976 World Championship Tennis circuit. It was the inaugural edition of the tournament, which was the first professional tennis tournament in Black Africa, and was held from February 9 to 15, 1976. Unseeded Dick Stockton won the singles title.[3]

1976 Lagos WCT
Date9–15 February
CategoryWorld Championship Tennis
Draw16S / 8D
Prize money$60,000
SurfaceClay (outdoors)
LocationLagos, Nigeria
Caracas, Venezuela
VenueLagos Lawn Tennis Club
United States Dick Stockton [1]
final not played
Lagos Open · 1977 →


Attempted coup d'etatEdit

In the morning of Friday, 13 February 1976, Murtala Mohammed the Head of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria was assassinated by a group of young army rebels in an attempted coup d'etat.[4] Due to the following unrest the tournament was halted and no matches were played on Friday and Saturday. The passports of most of the players were in possession of Nigerian immigration and in order to get them back and leave the country John McDonald, WCT’s International Director, ordered the tournament to resume on Sunday, 15 February. The quarterfinals of the singles event were played that day and the semifinals and final were scheduled for Monday. The doubles event was cancelled at the semifinals stage due to a lack of time.

On Monday while Arthur Ashe and Jeff Borowiak were playing their semifinal match and had just started the second set a group of soldiers entered the stadium and herded the players off the court at gunpoint. The two players fled to the US Embassy where they were later joined by the other players who had been staying in a hotel, where they were joined by another trapped athlete, Pelé, who was on a tour sponsored by Pepsi. The following Tuesday the tennis players and officials were given an armed police escort to Lagos International Airport and left the country for Accra, Ghana on a plane provided by general Obasanjo's government. There, they connected to a Rome-bound flight, where they were scheduled to attend the following week's tournament in the Italian capital. The start of Rome WCT was delayed by a day in order to accommodate the players coming from Lagos WCT.

The Lagos WCT's semifinal and final were concluded on 1 and 2 April, in Venezuela in-between another regularly scheduled tournament (the Caracas WCT) in order to allocate the prize money and ranking points of Lagos WCT.[5][6]



  Dick Stockton defeated   Arthur Ashe, 6–3, 6–2


The doubles event was cancelled at the semifinal stage.


  1. ^ "1976 Lagos WCT Men's Singles draw". Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).
  2. ^ "WCT Lagos 1976". International Tennis Federation (ITF).
  3. ^ John Barrett, ed. (1977). World of Tennis 1977 : a BP yearbook. London: Macdonald and Janes. p. 146. ISBN 9780354090117.
  4. ^ "WCT erred in Nigeria, top-ranked Ashe reasons". JET. Vol. XLIX no. 26. 25 March 1976. p. 47.
  5. ^ Olaojo Aiyegbayo (12 July 2015). "The story of Lagos' ill-fated 1976 Professional Tennis Tournament". Africa is a Country.
  6. ^ "Ashe beats Pole after soldiers force day delay". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. AP. 19 February 1976. p. 13 – via Google News Archive.

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