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2018 AJC Qualifiers: Marylove Edwards, Kushimo Win Gold as Nigeria Top Medals’ Table

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Tennis sensation, Marylove Edwards produced a brilliant performance as she beat Mali’s Koumba Niangadou to clinch gold medal on Thurday, at the Girls’ 14 & Under category of the 2018 ITF/CAT West and Central African Qualifiers holding in Togo.

Edwards, who missed last year’s final due to injury, laid credence to the form book as she dominated her Malian opponent from start to finish, winning 6-1, 6-0. 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 as she was the runner up in the 2017 CBN Open in Lagos.

In the Boys’ 14 & Under, Usman Kushimo followed the footstep of Edwards, 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 topped the medals’ table at the expense of Cote d’Ivoire, fast emerging as the major threat to Nigeria’s dominance at 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 title-defense as her star player and top seed, Eliakim Coulibaly, proved too handful for Nigeria’s Gabriel Friday in the Boys’ 16 & Under final decided at the Stade Omnisports, Lome.

Nigeria also had to settle for less in the Grls’ 16 & Under as top seed 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 2 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze, and will need to secure a handful of medals in the doubles events starting Friday if they are to win the tournament for a record-extending seven straight year.

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