David Ekpeyong (17) and his older sister, Rebecca (18) won the boys and girls singles titles respectively of the Zenith Bank Next Generation Masters, which ended at the weekend at the Luik Recreation Club in Lekki, Lagos. Interestingly, both beat their opponents by the same score.

David took on Muktar Andu (17), ranked 800 on the ITF Junior Circuit, 300 places ahead of him, but the ranking difference counted for little as Ekpenyong, a six-footer, completely dominated the match from start to finish, hitting and placing forehands with the confidence of an accomplished professional. 

Although London-based Andu fought back in the final set from being down 1 to 5, David turned on the heat with Andu serving 3-5 and broke to win the match by forcing an error from Andu’s backhand wing with a vicious forehand.

Rebecca, on the other hand, got her revenge against Timipre Maxwell, who had earlier beaten her on the group stage. The ‘allez’ girl out rallied and outlasted her opponent in a ding dong affair that was not quite reflected by the score.

The weeklong event had confirmed the emergence of some world-class talent, as two U-14 champions, Khadijat Mohammed for the girls and Seun Ogunsakin for the boys reached the semifinals from the group stage.

Another 14-year-old, Ganiyu Mubarak, who narrowly missed a semifinal place, took on the host venue champion in a pre-final exhibition match and beat him 9-1.

“We hope we can make this a tradition of the ‘Next Generation Masters’ at this excellent venue, where the current champion of the host club takes on one of the competitors to gauge their level,” Director of the International Tennis Academy (ITA) organisers of the tournament, Godwin Kienka, said.

The guest of honour at the finals, Lanre Oladimeji, Zenith Bank’s Group Head, Retail Banking, commended ITA for a well organised, top-level event. 

“The standard is really high and this speaks to the passion with which Godwin Kienka is bringing to bear on tennis development in Nigeria. We hope that these competitors will not only become national champions, but also world champions,” Oladimeji said in his closing remarks.

All the competitors got some mementoes, while the winners and runners-up got rackets and bags for their effort.

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