Except for a few falters, the Nigerian contingent at the African Junior Championship qualifiers in Togo has gotten off to a good start, with Usman Kushimo, Marylove Edwards, Iye Onoja and others progressing without having to break sweat.
Save Mukhtar Andu, who quite couldn’t hold his nerves to clinch what would have been an remarkable victory, Usman Kushimo and Matthew Abamu stayed right on track in the Boys’ 16 & Under category.
Andu, a Bristish-Nigerian, had in the first round fended off a stiff challenge from Cameroon’s Jonathan Atana to win 7-6, 7-5, but fell narrowly to Myko Kouame of Ivory Coast. Andu was handed a bagel in the first set, but did well to level match by taking the second set. His nerves, however, betrayed him in the final set as he was beaten 6-0, 5-7, 7-5 by the Ivorian.
Elsewhere, Kushimo, a gold medalist in the 14 & Under last year, had no problems brushing aside his opponent in the second round, winning 6-1, 6-0. Similarly, Matthew Abamu put up a rock solid display against Gabon’s Leo Besou to win 6-4, 6-2.
In the Girls’ 16 & Under, Marylove Edwards dropped just a game in a predictable 6-1, 6-0 battering of Marie-Stella Tsawlassou of Benin, while it wasn’t an easy second round encounter for Rebecca Ekpeyong, who had to dig deep to secure a 7-6, 7-5 win over Kekeli Adjiwanou of Togo.
Still in the same category, Mary Udoffa, having made a flying start in the first round with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Lawrencia Aghorghorbia, narrowly lost 5-7, 7-5, 6-7 to Chakira Dermane of Togo in the second round.
The Boys’ 14 & Under event saw Mubarak Ganiyu and Joshua Maxwell lose their respective opening round matches. While Ganiyu lost 1-6, 3-6 to Ghana’s Abubakari Yakubu-Lea, Maxwell’s encounter with Morningstar Dussey stretched to three sets before the Nigerian succumbed to defeat.
In the Girls’ 14 & Under event, Oiza Yakubu and Iye Onoja were almost unplayable. Yakubu, having received a bye in the first round, locked horns with Yayra Mckorley in the second round and dismantled the Ghanaian, claiming a 6-0, 6-0 victory.
Iye Onoja, elsewhere, breezed past Ishane Dermane of Togo 6-1, 6-1. Onoja had earlier defeated Beracah Atana 6-1, 6-4 in the first round on Monday.
Only casualty in this category was Serena Teluwo, who couldn’t get to grips with Rosaline Akombo’s imposing play in the second round and was beaten 6-1, 6-3 by the Cameroonian.