Top seed, Joseph Imeh sealed a memorable week in Kano with his first ever Dala Hard Court title after Sylvester Emmanuel retired just before what might have been the final game of the match with Imeh leading 7-6(4), 5-4.
It’s a dramatic turnaround in fortune for Imeh, who before now, had lost in four consecutive national finals, with the most recent being at the Vemp Open in Abuja in September. However, the 21-year-old banished his demons at the Rainoil Open in Lagos last week, where he clinched his first national title, and has again, outstandingly claimed another, beating the man who had upset him at the Vemp Open final.
Both men started the match impressively, playing a very solid game and staying consistent with their serves. With regularities in finding the right corners and minimizing errors, they guided the set into a tiebreaker. Imeh, who hadn’t dropped a set all week, was not about to lose one as he ran out with a 7-4 win to close out the set.
The second was as evenly-contested as the first, but it was Imeh who got the all-important break and stayed composed to see it through. The 21-year-old had two championship points while serving at 5-4 before Emmanuel retired due to injury.
Imeh now, not just carts away N1million in winnings, but also solidifies his position at the top of the NTF rankings, ending the year as the nation’s number one.
For Emmanuel, his wait for a third Dala Hard Court crown continues. But there’s no doubt about how successful he’s been this year, winning the CBN Open and the inaugural edition of the Vemp Open in Abuja.