Henry Atseye defeated second seed, Joseph Imeh in three sets to win the inaugural Rainoil Tennis Open Men’s Singles title in Lagos, while top seed, Sarah Adegoke beat Blessing Samuel to win the Women’s Singles title.
Atseye had said after his semi-final win against Thomas Otu that he hoped to be at his best in the final and… he was nothing short of that. Despite a spirited effort from Joseph Imeh, the 28-year-old went on to record a superb 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 victory to lift the Rainoil Tennis Open title in Lagos.
Atseye started brilliantly, raining forehands on Imeh, and mixing things up with his slice backhand. Despite Imeh’s rseistance, his more experienced opponent was just too good, carving out the decisive break of the opener midway through the set.
Imeh was never going to go away without a fight, and the youngster stepped it up to open a 4-1 lead in the second. However, Atseye fought back to level at 4-4, and as the set developed into a gripping crescendo, it was Imeh who found that little bit extra to level the match.
Things went with serve in the opening four games of the final set, but Atseye turned on the afterburners after that. He grabbed the first break of the set for a 3-2 lead, and then consolidated with a magnificent hold, finishing off with two glorious backhand winners. There was no stopping Atseye at this point, as he unfurled winner after winner past the helpless Imeh under the beaming lights of the Lagos Country Club.
Imeh put up one last stand, saving Atseye’s first match point, but he sent a forehand into the net on the second to concede defeat in a fantastic contest. Atseye walked away with the inaugural Rainoil Tennis Open title, and with it, a prize money of N500,000.
The defeat leaves Joseph Imeh with an unwanted record. He’s now competed in four major finals since February this year, and has lost in all four of them.
In the Women’s Singles final, top seed, Sarah Adegoke got her revenge against Blessing Samuel, recording a 6-3, 6-3 victory at the Lagos Country Club. Adegoke fell to defeat at the Dala Hard Court Final against Samuel only 3 weeks ago, but the 20-year-old flew out of the blocks on the clay, and raced to a 4-0 lead in the first set. Samuel tried to force her way back into the match, but Adegoke had build up a big enough lead, and took the opening set 6-3.
The second set was pretty much the same, with Adegoke, on the back of some heavy forehands, dominating the early stages of the set. Samuel fought back again, but he younger opponent found an extra gear towards the end, running away with the fina three games to complete the 6-3 6-3 win.
“I was nervous because I know Blessing has improved a lot. She is a very good player but somehow she did not play to her standard today,” said Adegoke who went home with N350,000.
In the Men’s Doubles played on Saturday, the duo of Henry Atseye and Nonso Madueke beat the pair of Sylvester Emmanuel and Clifford Enosorogbe 6-4, 7-5 to lift the Men’s Doubles title, carting away the sum of N200,000.
Speaking at the final event, the Rainoil CEO, Gabriel Ogbechie, pledged more support for the development of Nigerian tennis.
“The tournament will help our players get more familiar with clay court because they are used to hard surface and to be the beat one has to master all the surfaces. We are going to continue this way to ensure we bring out the best in our youths,” Ogbechie said.