The Main Draw of the second edition of the Rainoil Open Tennis Championship will serve off this morning at the Tennis Section of Ikoyi Club 1938 with focus on Joseph Umeh who is aiming to end second fiddle roles.
Umeh is the top player on the Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF) ranking but has been unable to translate this to silverware. Five times the tough-hitting player has been in finals of national tournaments but has lost all. Last year, he lost in the final of the maiden edition of this Rainoil Tournament to Henry Atseye to make it look as if a jinx exists for him.
Speaking ahead of today’s first round games Umeh insisted he is out to end his bad run. “I’m looking forward to end my bad run, I have been on top of my game and I just need to push hard and I believe this is the time for me to win a national tournament.”
However, it is not only Umeh that is eyeing the N500,000 star prize money on offer by Rainoil. Number 2 seed, Emmanuel Sylvester wants an improvement over the second round he got knocked out of this tournament last year by Chima Michael.
“I was disappointed with my outing last year may be because I’m just back from injury but this year I’m in a very good shape and I look forward to win this tournament because I would be very happy to win this tournament because Rainoil are my sponsor,” declared the 22-year-old, who as a teenager won the inaugural Rainoil Top-Eight Masters, which metamorphosed to the current tournament.
Meanwhile, some of the last men’s singles qualifiers played yesterday include; Kareem Badmus defeated Usman Kushimo 6-1, 6-1 to earn a spot in the main draw. Those who are already through to the Main Draw include; John Dickson, Matthew Abamu, Franklin Ronald, Peter Lawal, David Dawarire, Pius Lawrence, Michael Ambrose, Ismaila Adeshin, Nurudeen Adebisi and Olalekan Bello.
In the women’s singles, defending Champion, Sarah Adegoke will have to be on the look out for Blessing Samuel who is after her crown. Both players are the top two seeds.
Interestingly, some of the junior players who are expected to make waves include, Serena Teluwo, Oiza Yakubu, and Olamide Aluko. These kids who are the future of Nigeria’s female tennis have already proved their worth on the international scene, playing the ITF junior tournaments in Togo early this year. They made their ways into the Main Draw starting this morning.