Onukogu Kanayochuqu Jubal
Fast rising tennis youngster Joseph Imeh got the revenge he promised Abdulmumuni Babalola, when he dispatched him 6-3, 6-3 in the first singles of the NCC Tennis League opener in Abuja over the weekend.
Imeh, playing for Lagos-based Team Muller, was thumped by Babalola in straight sets during the 2017 CBN Senior Championships in and vowed to get one back over Babalola the next time they meet.
The rising star, who had a winning Davis Cup debut for Nigeria last month in Egypt, also played a major role in securing an upset victory over Team Civil Defence, winners of the inaugural edition in 2015.
Imeh beat Clifford Enosorogbe 6-4, 6-3 in the reverse singles and paired Mohammed Mohammed to win the doubles against Enosoregbe and Nonso Madueke 7-5, 2-6, 10-6.
Emmanuel Idoko, playing the No.2 singles for Team Muller also did his bit by upsetting Babalola in the second singles 6-7, 7-6, 6-4.
The three points for Team Civil Defence came from national ladies’ champion, Christie Agugbom who defeated Ronke Akingbade 6-2, 6-3; Enosoregbe who beat Idoko 7-5, 6-3 in the first singles and the mixed doubles where Babalola and Agugbom triumphed over Idoko and Akingbade 6-3, 6-2.
The pulsating tie which set a very good tone for the 2017 tennis league was preceded by a well-attended opening ceremony which had the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udo-Udoma, a tennis player and multi-talented sports person in his hey-day, served off the event.
“This very laudable private initiative is the exact direction this government wants to go, by allowing the private sector lead development in the major sectors of the economy. Sport has enormous capacity to engage our youth, create jobs and earn good foreign exchange that would grow our economy. It is projects like this that can bring out the sporting talent in our youth.
“I, therefore, commend the NCC for this investment in our youth and Godwin Kienka and his team for doing such a good job,” said the minister.
The NCC Tennis League would continue this weekend, with ties in Ibadan and Ilorin.
Team Oluyole would host Team VGC Lions of Lagos at the Adamasingba Stadium, Ibadan, while Team Optiwebb of Ilorin would take on Team Kalotari of Port Harcourt at the Kwara Stadium.