*Four new national champions emerge in SNEPCo
*Mary Udofa upsets Esther Marshal in the U-12 girls category
Michael Osewa and Angel McLeod put up very commanding performances to retain their boys 18 and girls 16 titles respectively as the third edition of the SNEPCo Junior Tennis Championship came to an exciting end at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club.
Osewa defeated Stephen Augustine for the second time in two weeks 8-4 while McLeod overpowered Toyin Asogba who had upset Marylove Edwards in the semi-finals 8-2.
The boys 16 match, which was again the star match, lived up to the billing as Emmanuel Jebutu finally won the long drawn match 9-7.
It was an all Kodian Tennis Foundation affair in the girls 14 as Timipre Maxwell again defeated the younger Rebecca Ekpeyong who just graduated from the 12 this year 8-4. Ekpeyong however went away smiling as she got the most improved player (MVP) award.
Two Abuja-based players also dominated the boys 14s where Suleiman Ibrahim defeated Aliu Abubakar 8-4.
The MVP award for the boys went to Philip Abayomi, another player who did not win an event but showed remarkable improvement from the CBN junior championship held two weeks ago.
Other title winners were Serena Teluwo who won a close match against her friend and team mate Reza Holmes 9-7; Precious Ikueba who beat Seun Ogunsakin 8-6 and Daniel Adeleye who defeated Joshua Maxwell 8-4.
A surprise winner emerged in the girls 12 where Lokoja-based Mary Udofa beat Esther Marshal from Lagos 8-2.
The week long event which saw the emergence of four new champions had 158 players competing in five age categories – boys and girls 10 & under, 12 & under, 14 & under, 16 & under and 18 & under.
In his speech at the finals, the managing director of SNEPCo, Bayo Ojulari, said the company was happy to play a part in giving Nigerian youths a window of opportunity to create wealth with their talent.
“A well structured and well organised junior event like this is bound to produce results and spicing it up with cultural dances and ballet show dancing by other youths makes it really interesting for all of us. We appreciate our partnership with the International Tennis Academy whose director, Godwin Kienka, is putting his soul and body into developing tennis in Nigeria.” said Mr Ojulari.
Adding, “the main objective of using this championship to attract, identify and develop talent is being greatly achieved as we can all see the improvement the young players are making and what they are achieving in the West and Central African region and in the continent at large.”
The Managing Director was represented by Mr Obinna Anaba, the talent resources and development manager of Shell.
The Honourable Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung, who was represented by Dr Segun Akinlotan from the Ministry, spoke in the same vein.
The minister said: “A sound junior programme such as this by the International Tennis Academy is the recipe for producing world class talents and every sport should emulate this structure that takes our young boys and girls from a very early age through to podium success at the highest level of the sport.”