Ebenezer Osamo/Who Was In Abuja –
The Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA National Tennis Open may have ended but the intrigues that trailed the tournament still linger.
The tournament, held for the very first time in Abuja, Nigeria’s Capital, set out to produce a strong competitive atmosphere, especially with the presence of all the top Nigerian players.
But, instead of the top players to dominate, the younger ones took the bull by the horns, and showed that junior tennis has come of age in the country.
Wild Card entrant, Emmanuel Idoko was the first to repay the confidence reposed in him by the Tennis Federation, as he defeated one of Nigeria’s finest players, Abdulmumuni Babalola, in a match which many expected him (Idoko) to lose flatly.
Idoko, fresh from winning the Chevron Masters in Lagos and having garnered some playing time at the Governor’s Cup Tennis Championship in Lagos, proved one of the jokers of the tournament as he only fell to eventual winner, Clifford Enosoregbe in the Men’s Singles final.
Just like the US-trained tennis rookie, Joseph Imeh, Nigeria’s highest ranked junior player, showed how far he had improved since he burst into the senior category in 2014.
Earlier this year, he had broken his racquet when he lost to Thomas Otu at the semi final stage of the Ekiti All Nigeria Tennis Open, but the Imeh who played at the NPA Open looked a bit more mature and got the vengeance he craved by defeated a more experienced Otu.
Their match was dubbed the most exciting of the tournament as it lasted several hours before the winner was eventually decided.
He scaled through other hurdles but was sure of his exit when he met Enosoregbe in the semi final.
According to the junior champion, “He was just hitting the balls to angles where I could not pick them. We all know that he’s such a good player, so it was not a shame losing to him because I really played well”.
Winner of the Governor’s Cup Championship in Lagos, Moses Michael continued from where he stopped in Lagos, to send another senior player, Lawal Shehu packing in an entertaining match.
Michael was serving at 2-5 in the final set and everyone thought the match would be over if Shehu breaks him.
But Michael showed guts to hold his serve and tie with Shehu at 5-5. He subsequently won the game 7-5 in the final set, in other words, he won five straight games.
Although his romance with the NPA Open was cut short in the Quarter final stage when he had to travel to Togo for an ITF Circuit, Michael had done enough to prove to the fans that he was a cat with nine lives.
In the Women’s Singles, Osareimen Airhunwunde proved to be the star of the tournament as she was ruthless in her Semi and final matches.
She was responsible for the scalp of teenage super star, Sarah Adegoke in the semi final and took the first set 6-2, in her final match against eventual winner, Christie Agugbom but lost to inexperience.
The players took their splendid forms to Kano for the Dala Hard Court Tourney, and proved their mettle as well.