Team Civil Defence got through to their second final of the NCC Tennis League in three years, after beating defending champions Team Offikwu of Kaduna 6-1 in the second semifinals decided in Abuja over the weekend.
Team Civil Defence, runners-up in the first edition and third place finishers last year will meet debutantes and hot favourites Team Muller of Lagos in the finals taking place at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club this weekend Saturday December 9 and Sunday December10.
The Abuja-based paramilitary team took full advantage of a depleted and injury-ravaged Team Offikwu whose lead player, Sylvester Emmanuel, did not look fully recovered from an appendicitis operation he had eight weeks ago. The defending champions also did not have the services of Shehu Lawal, who had traveled to the Emirates to pursue a coaching career.
Former national champion, Clifford Enosorogbe, started the rout by beating Emmanuel 6-3, 6-2 and Abdulmumuni Babalola followed with a decisive 6-2, 6-2 victory over Henry Atseye who was also said to be nursing an ankle sprain.
Nigeria’s leading female player, Sarah Adegoke, halted the onslaught temporarily by defeating Christie Agugbom 6-2, 6-2 in the ladies’ singles but Team Civil Defence,unwilling to leave anything to chance, fielded their strongest combination of Babalola and Enosorogbe to win the men’s doubles against Atseye and Emmanuel 6-4, 6-3 to stretch their lead to 3-1.
On the second match day, Babalola beat Christopher Bulus 6-3, 6-0 to secure an unassailable 4-1 lead that earned his team a place in the finals.
The last two matches became mere ‘formalities’, with reserve players of both teams getting a chance in the spotlight.
Michael Chima beat Christopher Itodo in the second reverse singles 7-5, 6-3, while the pair of Bukola Olowu and Nonso Madueke finished off the defending champions by winning the mixed doubles match against Bulus and Adegoke 4-6, 6-4, 10-5.
Team Offikwu will now take on Team Ndoma-Egba in the third place match taking place on Thursday and Friday, also at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club.
The champions of the league will get the top prize of N7 million, runners-up N5 million, third place N3 million and fourth place N2 million.