Saturday, September 18, 2021

How Team Offikwu upset Civil Defence to qualify for NCC Tennis League final

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Team Tombim’s Thomas Otu awaits Team Offikwu in the final of the NCC Tennis League scheduled for the National Stadium, Lagos… this weekend.

Against all expectations, Kaduna-based Team Offikwu defeated highly-rated Team Civil Defence 4-3 to qualify for the final of the 2016 NCC Tennis League, where they will meet Team Tombim of Abuja.

A brave, heartfelt performance from Sylvester Emmanuel and Aanu Aiyegbusi in the decisive mixed doubles match of the second semifinals of the NCC Tennis League Cup, gave the debutants a dream upset win against the star studded Civil Defence team – runners-up of the maiden edition last year.

When Abdulmumuni Babalola beat Sylvester Emmanuel 6-3, 7-6 in the first singles and Shehu Lawal followed with a 7-6, 6-2 win over Emmanuel Idoko to pick the first two points for the Civil Defence team on the opening day, many tennis fans assumed the tie was won and lost.

It turned out, however, that Team Offikwu had other ideas and picked the next two points that they were least expected to win.

Aiyegbusi put up a virtuoso performance to beat national champion, Christie Agugbom, who has never lost a match in the league, 7-5, 6-0 and the pair of Albert Bicom and Emmanuel recovered from a set down to upset current national doubles champions, Lawal and Babalola 4-6, 6-3, 10 -6 in the men’s doubles to even scores on Saturday.

With scores at 2 -2 going into Sunday, both teams split the reverse singles.

Babalola beat Idoko 7-6, 6-4, while Emmanuel beat Shehu Lawal 6-1, 6-3 to level 3-3 to have the mixed doubles as the decisive match.

That was where Emmanuel, the highest ranked Nigerian on the ATP Tour and petite Aiyegbusi, ranked in the top five in Nigeria, played their hearts out to beat national doubles champion Lawal and Nigerian ladies’ champion Agugbom 6-3, 5-7, 11-9 to secure Team Offikwu’s place in the finals scheduled for Lagos this weekend.

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