The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) 2017 Tennis League opener taking place at the Abuja National Stadium on Saturday, August 5 and Sunday August 6 will further highlight the emerging rivalry between fast rising Joseph Imeh of Team Muller and former national champion, Abdulmumuni Babalola, of Team Civil Defence.
Babalola and Imeh met in the finals of the prestigious CBN Senior Open Championships a couple of months ago with the â€˜veteranâ€™ winning 6-3, 6-4 in a match the youngster, playing his first ever senior finals, failed to find the form that took him to the championship match.
â€œI think it is going to be different this time aroundâ€ said Imeh, dripping sweat from a heavy workout. â€œThe team championship is usually different for me because I tend to play my best game. Last year I beat Sylvester Emmanuel in Kaduna and won all my singles matches.
â€œHowever, I know Babalola is in very good form and has a lot of experience as a Davis Cup playerâ€¦. we shall see,â€ Imeh said.
Team Civil Defence, winners of the 2015 edition also have in their ranks Clifford Enosoregbe, another former national No.1 who has rediscovered his form and Christie Agugbom, the leading female player in Nigeria who will be seeking to avenge her upset loss to Ronke Akingbade at the CBN Senior Championships.
The tie will feature two menâ€™s singles matches with reverses, one ladiesâ€™ singles, one menâ€™s doubles and a mixed doubles.
The league, the first of its kind in Africa, is offering a consolidated prize money of N23 million with the champion team bagging N7 million. It will also take topflight tennis to 12 cities in Nigeria up from 10 last year.
The Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung and the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, are expected to serve-off the championship which starts at 10 am on Saturday.