Nigeria began its quest for the defence of the 2017 ITF/CAT African Junior Championship West and Central Africa qualifiers in an impressive note with most of its players securing victories in their opening matches on Wednesday at the tournament holding in Lome, Togo.
Wilson Igbinovia was the first among the Nigerians in action to bag a victory by beating Maiga Quattara of Burkina Faso 6-1, 6-2 in the boy’s 16 and under category.
It was a dream AJC debut for the 13-year-old, who was the surprise element in the Nigerian team after playing his way to the team during the camping in Ekiti.
But while Igbinova had it easy, Michael Osewa was made to work off his socks before beating Haya Koune of Cote d’Ivoire 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Osewa is fast becoming a slow starter as he had to come from a set down to win four of his five matches at the last AJC in Pretoria in South Africa where he lost to Damien Laporte of the Seychelles in the final.
“It was a very difficult and tough match. The Ivorian opponent was playing with so much power in the first set and Osewa kust don’t know how to contain him. However, he (Osewa) took control of the game in the second match which he won convincingly; the same thing happened in the final set,” Nigeria’s coach, Mohammed Ubale said after the match.
In the girls’ 16 and under, Omolade Aderemi also triumphed over Dami Kouche of Togo 6-1, 6-0 while Michael Ayoola defeated Umar Fouma of Mali 6-3, 6-2 in the boys’ category.
Nigeria’s fine run was somehow dented as Toyin Asogba fell 6-0, 6-3 to Kpadonu of Togo in the girls’ 16 and under.
Nigeria’s Oyinlomo Quadri will be in action on Thursday as she bid to defend the girls’ 14 and under title she won in Abuja last year.
The tournament which is open to 15 countries serves as qualifiers for the AJC billed for March in Pretoria.