“The tie would be two days of the best tennis that is possible in Nigeria…” — Director of the International Tennis Academy, Godwin Kienka.
Such is the magnitude of the NCC Tennis Cup second semi-final match between defending champions, Team Offikwu and Team Civil Defence. Dubbed by many as the “Final before the Finals” – it promises to be really intense with lots of emotions brimming.
It’s the best pitted against the best. Brilliance against sagacity when these two teams square off at the National Stadium, Abuja this weekend, December 2 & 3.
Both teams had a terrific run to the semis, routing opponents home and away in their respective groups and doing it in the best way possible. And, save Team Civil Defence’s 4-3 loss at home to Team Muller in the Blue Group, they, like Team Offikwu, would have scored a perfect five.
Regardless, they recorded staggering results against the other teams; successive 7-0 victories over Team Oluyole and Team VGC Lions, followed by a 6-1 routing of Team Optiwebb in the penultimate group match before edging Team Kalotari 4-3 to seal their semi-final place as they finished 2nd behind finalist Team Muller.
On the other hand, Team Offikwu buoyed by the country’s leading tennis professional, Sylvester Emmanuel, female no. 1, Sarah Adegoke, former national champions – Henry Atseye, Shehu Lawal, youngster Oyinlomo Quadre, showed no mercy from start to finish as they thrashed Team TechVibe 6-1 in Jos, trounced Team Yetade 7-0 in Kaduna, successive 5-2 victories over Team Ndoma-Egba and Team Goshen and then ended the group stage campaign with a 7-0 battering of Team CBN Futures that kept them atop the White Group.
Lead player, Sylvester Emmanuel who’s presently in Benin Republic for an invitational tournament, has indicated his team’s interest in defending the title but is wary of a tough Civil Defence side.
“We really want to defend our title but the semi-finals against Abdulmumuni Babalola, Clifford Enosorogbe, and Christie Agugbom will be tough,” Emmanuel said.
Emmanuel is expected to battle former national champion, Clifford Enosorogbe of Team Civil Defence in the Men’s Singles. In the Ladies Singles, the expected match-up will be between 2 times Dala Hard Court Tennis champion, Christie Agugbom and the 2017 CBN Open Women’s Singles champion, Sarah Adegoke, who’s also in Benin.
Will a star-studded Civil Defence side crush Team Offikwu’s hopes of defending their title? Or will the defending champions do well to keep up their ruthless run?
The winner of this Abuja semi-final tie will meet Team Muller of Lagos who overran Team Ndoma-Egba in the first semi-finals played at the Enugu Sports Club two weeks ago.
The championship match with a top prize of N7 million for the winner will take place on Saturday, December 9 and Sunday, December 10 at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Race Course, while the battle for third and fourth places will precede the finals on Thursday Dec. 7 and Friday Dec. 8.