*Wins N7million prize money
*Alex Ekwueme, Nduka Odizor, Solomon Dalung grace finals
By Adejoke Bamidele, Lagos
Kaduna based Team Offikwu Sunday in Lagos completed their fairy tale run by beating defending champions Team Tombim 4-2 to clinch the 2016 NCC Tennis League Cup.
In a tight but exciting tie played at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club and watched by His Excellency, former Vice President, Alex Ekwueme and the Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, Team Offikwu took the two reverse singles to put the tie beyond the reach of the defending champions.
The team which debuted this year, had recovered from 2 -0 down Saturday to level the tie 2 -2 and on Sunday the young team took the two reverse singles to make the last mixed doubles match inconsequential.
Sylvester Emmanuel, the arrow head of the “comeback kids” once again proved to be the match winner when he beat national champion, Moses Michael, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 in what proved to be the final match. Albert Bicom had earlier beaten Emmanuel Paul 6-4, 6-4.
Team Offikwu fought back the same way they did in their upset win over Team Civil Defence in the semi-finals. Oyin Quadri, one of Nigeria’s most promising junior talents, started the comeback bid for Team Offikwu with a comprehensive 6-3, 6-1 upset win over former National champion Sarah Adegoke.
The doubles pair of Emmanuel and Bicom then overcame Michael and Paul 7-6, 6-1 to even up the tie.
In his remarks, Dalung praised the level of organisation of the competition saying the success of the NCC Tennis League is a testimony that sports in Nigeria is better off being private sector driven.
“The competition was taken to all the zones of the Federation, offered very huge prize monies which made several young men and women millionaires with no kobo coming from government. This is a good example for the Sports Federations to follow.” Dalung said
Sir Alex Ekwueme who expressed delight that Nduka ”the Duke” Odizor, was at the finals, expressed delight with the level of play and organisation.
“It was a very exciting event and I thoroughly enjoyed the matches. If this competition is sustained Nigeria should be able to produce world beaters in the very near future,” the former Vice President who still plays and follows tennis at the world level passionately, said.
Team Offikwu got N7 million while runners-up Team Tombim got N5 million. Team Civil Defence winners of the third place concluded Friday went home with N4 million while the fourth place team, Team FCT got N2 million.
The competition was organised by the International Tennis Academy.