Marylove Edward, yesterday, produced a stunning performance by beating Koumba Niangadou of Mali to clinch gold medal at the 14 and under of the 2018 ITF/CAT West and Central African Qualifiers holding in Togo.
The youngstar, who joined the Nick Bolleteri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida last September, justified her status as the prime seed, as she coasted to an easy 6-1, 6-0 win against her Malian opponent.
The win is expected to spark what promises a great year ahead for the tennis prodigy, who, at 12, became the youngest player in Nigeria’s tennis history to reach the final of an open tournament. She was the runner up in the 2017 CBN Open in Lagos.
In the boys’ 14 and under, Usman Kushimo followed the footstep of Edward, as he defeated Mariano Kpodeziaou of Benin Republic 6-4, 6-3 to make it a double for Nigeria in the category.
The heroics of the duo, ensured Nigeria shot to the summit of the medals’ table at the expense of Cote d’Ivoire, which is fast emerging as the major threat to Nigeria’ s dominance of the annual regional championship.
The Francophone nation, who ran neck-and-neck with Nigeria last year, showed why they remain the biggest threat to Nigeria’s quest to a successful defense of the title as its star player and top seed, Eliakim Coulibaly, proved too handful for Nigeria’s Gabriel Friday in the boys’ 16 and under final decided at the Stade Omnisports, Lome.
Nigeria also had to settle for less in the girls’ 16 and under, as Oyinlomo Quadri, who won gold last year had to settle for bronze after fending off the challenge of Serena Geli of Togo.
Nigeria is leading the 12-nation tournament with two gold, one silver and one bronze, and will need to bag a handful of medals in the doubles events starting today if they are to win the tournament for a record-extending seven straight year.