By Onukogu Kanayochuqu Jubal
Following the deciding of the places for the semi-final of the NCC Tennis League over the weekend, it has emerged that defending champion Team Offikwu would be taking on Team Civil Defence in Abuja, on December 2 and 3, 2017.
The game, tagged ‘The final before the final’, would see last year’s winner, Offikwu, aim to shoot down its biggest foe, in a bid to retain its title.
Kaduna-based Offikwu, led by Sylvester Emmanuel and now reinforced with two former national champions, Shehu Lawal and Henry Atseye, as well as 2017 CBN Open women’s singles champion, Sarah Adegoke, won all its round-robin matches to top the White Group.
Team Civil Defence, on the other hand, boasts three national champions who are in good form. The Abuja-based para-military outfit has current national champions Abdulmumuni Babalola and Christie Agugbom, as well as Clifford Enosoregbe in its fold.
The other semi-final, scheduled for the Enugu Sports Club on November 18 and November 19, would see two newcomers, Team Muller of Lagos and Team Ndoma-Egba of Abuja, have a go at themselves.
Team Muller, which also scored a perfect five in the round-robin matches to lead the Blue Group has Joseph Imeh, who is yet to lose a match in the League, as the lead player. Imeh is backed by Emmanuel Idoko, Mohammed Mohammed and top-ranked female player, Ronke Akingbade.
Imeh would, however, have to contend with an Ndoma-Egba team that has former national champion Thomas Otu, who has combined with Emmanuel Paul and hard-fighting women’s top player, Aanu Aiyegbusi, to get through to the semifinals.
The Enugu tie is bound to rekindle memories of the glory days of tennis in Enugu – a city that produced great players like Patrick Obi, Esther Onyekwelu, Cecilia Nnadozie, Kyrian Nwokedi and Nnamdi Ehirim in more recent times.
Director of the International Tennis Academy (ITA) and coordinator of the league, Godwin Kienka, said: “We have had a very exciting round-robin series, taking topflight tennis to 12 cities across the nation and I am glad the top four teams that emerged have very good in-form players and all stand a chance to go on to the finals.
“We could not have asked for better matchups and, for Enugu, it will amount to hosting the semi-final and final of a national tournament in the city,” an upbeat Kienka said.
All four teams are guaranteed a minimum of N2million, with the champion taking home the top prize of N7 million.
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