Top seed, Joseph Imeh produced a stunning performance to outclass Henry Atseye 6-3, 6-2 and win the Rainoil Open—his first national title—capping off a truly remarkable week in Nigeria’s largest city on Saturday.
After a delayed start due to the women’s final on the same court, both men looked intent on taking care of business. But it was Imeh who got the breakthrough first in the opener, carving out the crucial break in the eight game for a 5-3 lead and then consolidating with a hold to close out the first set.
Imeh kept the momentum in the second set, breaking Atseye in the first game and consolidating with a neat hold to go 2-0 up. Atseye would find his serve in the third game, but Imeh continued to heap pressure on the 29-year-old. At 4-2 up, Imeh, again, broke for a 5-2 lead and stayed composed to serve it out and clinch the title under the beaming light of the Ikoyi Club, much to the delight of the crowd.
”I feel very good right now, very relaxed and happy,” Imeh said. ”Winning my first national tournament is a very big achievement for me and I really want to say thanks to everyone who supported me – my fans and my practice mates.”
Given his dismal record in finals coming into today’s final, Imeh said he wasn’t bothered about playing Atseye, who had beaten him in last year’s final, his only worry was on not falling short at the last hurdle for a fifth time, seeing how his nerves have betrayed him in recent times.
”What was going through my mind was… the fifth final… I need to win. I need to win. That was the major thing going through my mind,” the 21-year-old stressed. ”And that being said, I was really focused and I came out 100% and ready for the match.”
Imeh carts away N500,000 in winnings as he turns his attention to the final national tournament of the 2018 season — the Dala Hard Court Tennis Championship which will take place in Kano.