New stars emerge at SNEPCo junior tennis championship
The tournament, which featured singles competitions in three age categories, the Boys and Girls 14s, 12s and10s, featured some exciting matches top of which was the boys U-10 finals.
Malcolm Osaji (Lagos), runner up in the last three ITA Junior Circuit tournaments, who was favourite to win in the absence of the champion, Murewa Egbeyemi, was ambushed by Chidubem Amasiani from Abuja.
The Director of International Tennis Academy, Godwin Kienka, described Amasiani as a ‘no miss talent.’
Amasiani featuring in his first ever national tournament, played with the confidence of a veteran, swept through the round robin stages with a perfect three score and completely overwhelmed Osaji who tried his best to fight back but to no avail. Amasiani prevailed 9-2.
“Chiduben is a great multi-sport talent,” Kienka said.
“His stroke production was effortless, fantastic footwork and the fact that he can come to a big stage like the centre court of a big club with so many dignitaries and play with so much confidence speaks a lot about his big heart. Luckily, he has a knowledgeable tennis loving mother but we now have to do everything to keep him in the sport of tennis,” Kienka, who has a deep knowledge of talent development and sports management said.
However, Malcolm’s sister, Ndidi Osaji, put some smiles on the face of her father, Jude Osaji, when she retained her Girls 12 title by beating Vanessa Inyang 9-3,
Ndidi had in the semifinals, survived a titanic battle against Fego Ayetuoma of Rivers State, which ended 9-7.
In the Girls 14, Khadijat proved too hard a nut to crack for the rest of the age group except Ohunene Yakubu, who has been promoted into the 16s and is the defending champion in that category.
Mohammed from Abuja was merciless against Mary Iorlumun from Benue, who she walloped 9-0 in the finals after a closer 9-5 score in their group match.
The star match between two 13-year olds who are the best talents in the 16 and under age group, Seun Ogunsakin and Ganiyu Mubarak, was won by Mubarak from Oyo State. He took advantage of a slow start from his Ekiti rival, following a one hour rain interruption, to race off to a 7-0 lead before the fight back started. It proved to be too little too late as the Ibadan boy held off the challenge to win 9-4.
The Boys 12 was won by Onyekachi Ogumjiofor from Ibadan, who beat Seyi Ogunsakin 9-4
In his closing remarks, the Rivers State Commissioner for Sports, Boma Iyaye, who was represented by the Director of Coaching of the Rivers State Sports Council, Harry Opakriba, said the tournament would help boost the sports development plan of the State for 2022, which has tennis as one of the priority sports.
“The standard is unbelievable,” he said. “Rivers State will put up a much better performance next year.”
Two Rivers state players, Ayetuoma (Girls 10) and Marvelous Timibra (Boys 14) reached the semifinals.
The sponsors, NNPC/Shell were represented by Dr/Mrs Gloria Udoh, Manager Social Performance Investment in the Social Corporate Relations Department.