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The impressive performance of Team Nigeria at the 39th ITF/CAT African Junior Championship concluded over the weekend in Pretoria, South Africa has been rewarded with a ticket for the Junior Davis Cup scheduled for Egypt later this year.
Also, Michael Osewa emerged silver medalist in the boy’s 14&under category of the 11-day tournament following a 7-5, 6-4 loss to Damien Laporte of the Seychelles.
Osewa went into the match as the favourite having triumphed 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 in the most recent meetings between the two players which was at the Top 8 African Junior Masters held in Casablanca, Morocco last November but it was his opponent from the Indian Ocean Island that carried the day.
Osewa had made it a trademark of recovering after losing the opening set, a feat he achieved against top seed Younes Adnane of Morocco in the last-16, Jason Espitalier of Mauritius in the quarterfinal and Ryan Randiek of Kenya in the semifinal but it was not to be this time as Laporte broke him in the ninth game of the second set before taking his remaining two games on his own serves.
Nigeria Tennis Federation boss, Sani Ndanusa commended the feat achieved by the Nigerian team which was highlighted by Osewa’s masterful display.
He said: “The fear of the North Africans is now a thing of the past for us. Our immediate task is to complement our performance here which is the best in Nigeria’s history with a bigger support for our junior players especially now that we are back in the Davis Cup after missing for about three years.”
Yousef Khamis claimed the Boys’ 16 & under singles title beating Philip Henning of South Africa 7-6, 6-2 butMakayla Loubser restored the pride of the host nation by winning the Girls’ 14& under title with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Aisha Niyonkuru of Burundi.
ITF Moroccan Centre player Sada Nahimana of Burundi, made history as she claimed her third ITF title in succession at the expense of Morocco’s Diae El Jardi 7-5, 6-2.
Friday Gabriel, Christopher Itodo, Christopher Bulus, Barakat Quadri, Marylove Edward, Angel McLeod and Adetayo Adetunji are the other players that featured for Nigeria at the 11-day championship which attracted about 120 players from 25 countries.
The closing ceremony followed on centre court, with ITF Board Member Ismail El Shafei, Tennis South Africa Vice-President Riaad Davids, Confederation of African Tennis President Tarak Cherif, ITF Executive Director Luca Santilli and other distinguished guests all present.
Nigeria’s Micheal Osewa on Thursday, reached the final of the boy’s 14&under event at the 39th ITF/CAT African Junior Championships in Pretoria, South Africa with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over Ryan Randiek of Kenya.
The semifinal clash at the University of Pretoria High Performance Centre saw the two players going head-to-head for the second year running with Osewa outplaying his East African rival with a 6-2, 6-3 triumph at the quarterfinal stage of the tournament held in Tunisia in 2015.
The match was going with the serves until the ninth game when Randiek broke the Nigerian before sealing the set 6-4 on his serve. Nigeria’s coach Mohammed Ubale had expressed worries over Osewa’s inability to win the opening game which he pointed puts him under pressure but just like he did in the round of 16 clash against the number one seed Younes Adnan of Morocco and Jason Espitalier of Mauritius in the quarterfinal, Osewa kept his composure to level the match by winning the second set 6-4 to force the game into a rubber decider which he won 6-2. He will now meet Damien Laporte of Seychelles, who defeated South Africa’s Khololwam Montsi in Friday’s final.
An elated President of the Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF) Sani Ndanusa, who watched the match alongside several other federation bosses who are in Pretoria for the Annual General Meeting of the Confederation of African Tennis (CAT), said Osewa’s feat has helped break the jinx of players from North Africa who have always proved a barrier to Nigeria’s quest to rule Africa.
Osewa was stopped by Morocco’s Ismaal Saadi at this stage last year while Nigeria’s best outing in recent years was in 2012 when Candy Idoko finished third in Botswana after losing to a Tunisian in the semifinal.
Osewa is also in the run for the doubles title where he is pairing Gabriel Friday. There semifinal clash with opponents from South Africa was put on hold due to rain.
About 120 players from 25 countries are featuring in the 11-day tournament. The event which is in four categories is the biggest junior tennis tournament in Africa.
After a delay by the South African embassy, Team Nigeria were eventually issued visas on Sunday and are scheduled to depart Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja in the early hours of Monday for the forthcoming ITF/CAT African Junior Championship in Pretoria.
The seven-man team was originally scheduled to travel for the championship holding from March 8-19 at the ITF High Performance Centre, Pretoria on Saturday but only two members were issued visas.
National junior tennis coach, Mohammed Ubale, who was apparently relieved after what he termed a weekend of frustration, said: “a lady in the embassy called the Secretary of the Nigeria Tennis Federation this (Sunday) morning to come for the visas.
“Although she apologized on behalf of the embassy, she was a bit disturbed that the issue was mentioned in the press stating we shouldn’t have gone that far but I don’t think the embssy should bear any grudge towards us for this because we provided all the documents they requested for on time only for them to derail our arrangements as well as preparations by denying virtually all the players visas for the championship.
Ubale said the delay which necessitated a change of travelling arrangement cost an additional N25,000 each to the seven-man team but he was more worried by the fact that the team will now have just a day to acclimatize due to the high altitude of the venue.
“Surely, we will be the last country to arrive for the tournament because all the countries are expected to be in South Africa latest by Saturday which was what we planned for.
“Anyway, we will put in our best because the players are determined to do Nigeria proud.
Alongside Ubale, the players that will be aboard the South African Airline are Marylove Edwards, Angel McLeod, Michael Osewa, Gabriel Friday, Christopher Bulus, Christopher Itodo.
Morocco-based Oyinlomo Barakat Quadri and Adetayo Adetunji, who is based in South Africa are, already at the venue.
In what apparently is a setback for its quest to excel at the forthcoming ITF/CAT African Junior Championship holding from March 9-18 in Pretoria, South Africa, Team Nigeria were on Friday denied visas by the South African embassy in Abuja.
National Junior tennis head coach, Mohammed Ubale expressed frustration at the development saying its a big blow to the country’s preparation.
“The South African Embassy took us by surprise this morning (Friday) by denying five out of the six players that are going for the AJC.
“We have submitted our passports since ten days ago and they keep requesting for one thing or the other which we presented to them before they gave us appointment to come and collect it today (Friday) which was why we fixed our departure for Saturday (today) because our plan was to travel earlier,” Ubale, who alongside Marylove Edwards were the only two of the seven-man contingent that were granted visas for the tournament billed for the ITF High Performance Centre, Pretoria, said.
He added: “What annoyed me mostly is the fact that they granted visas to just two of us when we are all covered by one letter which the organisers sent to them in the course of seeking clarifications.”
NTF president, Engr Sani Ndanusa as at Friday afternoon was making efforts to make sure that the whole team were eventually granted visas as he made several calls to the International Tennis Federation headquarters in London as well as the Confederation of African Tennis in Tunis for intervention.
“Its very frustrating because virtually all the countries were scheduled to arrive the venue on Saturday but from what is on ground the earliest we can be in South Africa is Monday.
The most annoying part of it is that all the players have travelled several times to various parts of the continent and even beyond for tournaments” he said.
Those that were denied visas are Angel McLeod, Christopher Itodo, Christopher Bulus, Gabriel Friday and Michael Osewa.
Nigeria on Friday won four gold and three silver medals in the doubles events of the 2016 ITF/CAT West and Central Africa Junior Championships holding at the National Tennis Centre, Abuja.
In the Boys’12&u doubles final, Daniel Adeleye and Sulaiman Ibrahim defeated Kabba of Togo and Kamara of Sierra Leone while in the Boys’ 14&u, Michael Osewa and Friday Gabriel paired to beat their fellow Nigerians Saminu Abubakar and Musa Sani 7-6 (3), 6-4.
in the Girls’ 16&u, Adetayo Adetunji combined with Angel McLeod to beat Mattu Kamara of Sierra Leone and Linda Eloundou of Cameroun 6-0, 7-5 to clinch the title while in the 14&u, Barakat Quadri and Marylove Edwards saw off Anna Lumengo and Manuella Eloundou of Cameroun 6-3, 6-4.
Nigeria however, had to settle for silver medals in the Boys’ 16&u as Christopher Itodo and Peter Lawal lost to Dalmas N’tchaa of Benin and Jacques Sewavi of Togo 6-4, 6-2.
It was the same story in the Girls’ 12&u as Timiprie Maxwell and Rebecca Ekpeyong succumbed to Sedjo Coulibaly of Cote d’Ivoire and Indira Maffo Ronkan of Gabon 1-6, 6-4, 10-5.
The final of the tournament which is featuring 12 countries will be played on today with Nigeria competing in the 16&u final for boys and girls while there will be an all-Nigeria final in the boys’ 14&u singles as Osewa faces Gabriel while Quadri and Edwards clash for the girls’ 14&u title.
The other singles final involving two Nigerians is between Adeleye and Ibrahim in the boys’ 12&u. The championship which features 10 countries serves as qualifier for the African Junior Championship in Pretoria, South Africa in March.
Host Nigeria continued her impressive showing at the ongoing ITF/CAT West and Central Africa Junior Championship in Abuja on Wednesday with majority of the players advancing to the knockout stage of the 12-nation tournament billed to end on Saturday.
South Africa-based Adetayo Adetunji opened the floodgate of triumphs for Nigeria as she outplayed Linda Elondou of Cameroun, who is based in the US, 6-1, 6-0 to keep her perfect record in pool A of the girls’ 16&U while Angel McLeod beat Aichata Keita of Mali to also preserve her unblemished record in pool B of the category.
Timipre Maxwell beat Cameroun’s Patricia Wamba 6-4, 3-6, 10-5 to qualify from the girls’ 14&u and Rebecca Ekpeyong also progressed to the knock-out stage by beating Naa McKorly of Ghana 6-0, 6-0.
Ekiti state junior champion, Daniel Adeleye edged Ghana’s Kenneth Adzokatse in a tough match which ended 5-7, 6-3, 12-10 to stay on course for the boys’ 12&U title.
Tunisia 2015 Africa Junior Championship bronze medallist, Michael Oshewa maintained his superb form as he whitewashed Souleymane Quattara of Cote d’Ivoire 6-0, 6-0 to set up a semifinal clash with Charles Alipoe of Togo, a 7-6, 6-3 winner over Musa Sani of Nigeria.
A mouth-watering semifinal clash in the Boys’ 16&u on Thursday will see Nigeria’s Christopher Itodo face Frederic Coulibaly of Cote d’Ivoire after both players defeated Felix Hammond of Ghana 6-3, 6-3 and Peter Lawal of Nigeria 6-7, 6-0.
in the boys’ 14&U, Friday Gabriel also defeated Cameroun’s Paul Wamba 6-0, 6-0 to set up a semifinal match-up against Eliakin Coulibaly of Cote d’Ivoire, who outsmarted Saminu Abubakar of Nigeria 6-2, 6-4.