Defending champions, Team Offikwu are on track to making good their boast of retaining the NCC Tennis League title they won on their debut last year.
The Kaduna-based team led by Sylvester Emmanuel and now reinforced with two former national champions, Shehu Lawal and Henry Atseye, won all their round robin matches to top the White Group.
The Team which also has 2017 CBN Open women’s singles champion, Sarah Adegoke, will meet Blue Group runners-up, Team Civil Defence, in a tie scheduled for Abuja December 2 and December 3.
The Abuja semifinals have been tagged the ‘final before the finals’ by tennis followers as Team Civil Defence also has three national champions who are in good form. The Abuja-based para-military outfit has current national champions Abdulmumuni Babalola and Christie Agugbom as well as Clifford Enosoregbe in their fold.
The other semifinal that will take place at the Enugu Sports Club on November 18 and November 19 will feature two newcomers, Team Muller of Lagos and Team Ndoma-Egba of Abuja.
Team Muller that also scored a perfect five in the round-robin matches to lead the Blue Group, has Joseph Imeh, who is yet to lose a match in the League, as the lead player. Imeh is backed by Emmanuel Idoko, Mohammed Mohammed and top-ranked female player, Ronke Akingbade.
Imeh will however have to contend with an Ndoma-Egba team that has Thomas Otu, a former national champion who has combined with Emmanuel Paul and hard fighting women’s top player, Aanu Aiyegbusi to get through to the semifinals.
The Enugu tie is bound to rekindle memories of the glory days of tennis in the former eastern region capital – a city that produced great players like Patrick Obi, Esther Onyekwelu, Cecilia Nnadozie, Kyrian Nwokedi and Nnamdi Ehirim in more recent times.
Godwin Kienka, director of the International Tennis Academy which coordinates the league said: “We have had a very exciting round robin series, taking topflight tennis to 12 cities across the nation and I am glad the top four teams that emerged have very good in-form players and all stand a chance to go on to the finals.
“We could not have asked for better matchups and for Enugu it will amount to hosting the semifinal and final of a national tournament in the city,” Kienka said.
All four teams are guaranteed a minimum of N2 million with the champion team taking home the top prize of N7 million.