Former Nigerian international, Austin Jay Jay Okocha was at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan at the weekend to watch some of the exciting matches at the ongoing Lagos Open Tennis Championship.
The first leg (Futures 4) of the Lagos Open started at the weekend with matches in the qualifying rounds, while the main matches in the Singles and Doubles in both the men and women’s category serve off on Monday.
The former captain of the Super Eagles, who was received at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club by the Tournament director, Wale Oladunjoye, applauded the organisation of the International Tennis Federation, ITF circuit by the Local Organising Committee (LOC), headed by Pius Akinyelure.
He urged Nigerians to come out to watch the best of tennis at the ongoing Lagos Open.
Meanwhile, some Nigerians have been given wildcards to play in the main draws which start on Monday.
Sylvester Emmanuel and Ireland-based Adebola Obasoto received wildcards in the men’s event, while Barakat Oyinlomo Quadre, Sarah Adegoke, Loveth Donatus and America-based Adesuwa Osabuohen were given wildcards in the women’s category
However, ageing Nigerian tennis star, Abdulmumin Babalola, was a major casualty in the first round of qualifiers at the ongoing Lagos Open Tennis International Championship following a 6-1, 6-2 loss to his compatriot, Emmanuel Idoko.
Babalola, with nearly three decades of tennis experience, could not cope with the aggressive play of Idoko who wrapped up the match in just over an hour.
“I was not in good shape but that is not an excuse because he (Idoko) played better,” he said after the match at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan.
Babalola, the players’ representative on the Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF) board, however, promised to bounce back in the second week.
On a weekend of mixed fortune for Nigerians, Taiwo Owolabi and Michael Michaal progressed with 6-0, 6-0 and 7-5, 6-3 wins over Gerard Codino of France and Sammy Miruiki of Kenya respectively. They are joined by Christian Paul, Olaniyi ibiwoye and Mohammed Mohammed who were drawn bye.
But it was the end of the road for former national champion Henry Atseye as he was beaten 7-5, 6-2 by Sheil Kotecha of Kenya while Ridwan Morakinyo succumbed 6-4, 6-1 to Arnaud Sewanou of Benin.
Paul Emmanuel also strolled to the next stage with a double bagel over Olisaemeka Okafor in an all-Nigeria affair.
In the women’s singles, Patience Onebamhoin cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 win over Ronke Akingbade while Osarieman Airhunmwunde advanced at the expense of Abiodun Oyegoke 6-2, 6-2. German Jasmin Jebawy also moved to the next stage by beating Shufaa Changawa 6-3, 6-2 just as Olga Brodza of Poland edged Diana Mihail of Romania by the same scoreline.
The tournament coordinator, Mr Oladunjoye, promised fans high-class tennis due to the upgrading of the tournament.