The main draw of the 39th Central Bank of Nigeria Senior Open Tennis Championship gets underway in Lagos today with no fewer than 25 matches on the card for the opening day.
In the absence of defending champion Moses Michael, who decided to stay back in the US after posting his picture at the airport on Friday announcing he’s on his way to Nigeria to feature in the tournament, 2016 finalists Sylvester Emmanuel is the favourite for the Men’s singles title. He keeps a date with qualifier Richard Ogbu in the first round. Michael is also listed for the main draw and he is drawn to play Sani Adamu.
The Spain-based Emmanuel had a disappointing outing at the Tombim, Dayak and GSL ITF Futures held recently in Abuja and is looking forward to a successful campaign before heading back to the Pereriba Tennis Academy in Barcelona in June.
Clifford Enosoregbe and Thomas Otu have dates to keep with Wale Babalola and Chinedu Iwuagwu just as old war-horse SundayMaku faces a banana skin test in Christopher Itodo, a wild card entrant.
Five-time winner, Abdulmumuni Babalola will battle Ismaila Adeshina, and another match that will draw attention is between Gabriel and Christopher Bulus both of whom are Nigeria junior internationals. Abuja-based Henry Atseye and Taiwo Owolabi also go head-to-head.
In the Women’s singles, top seed Christie Agugbom faces Oluchi Ozurumba while Blessing Samuel and Sarah Adegoke who are the second and third seeds confront Omotayo Osewa and Beauty Oghenekevwe respectively. Former winner, Ronke Akingbade is favoured to come out top in her clash with Amata Nwokolo, a wild card beneficiary. Youngster Angel McLeod have her hands full as she confronts Christy Nwankwo just as Ebere Fortune and Ngozi Dirisu clash.
Defending champion Melissa Ifidzhen is also listed for action against Folarin Akosile while Aminat Quadri, elder sister of junior tennis sensation Barakat Quadri, duels with Pauline Ebijimi.
“Moses and Melissa are yet to officially inform the secretarial of their absence or otherwise so they are in the main draw. If after 15 minutes they did not show up for their match, they will be replaced by lucky losers,” Tournament Referee, Saidu Musa said.