The finals of Azimuth Shipping Lines Junior Tennis Tournament produced unexpected winners, as Gbolahan Olawale from Ondo State and Lorelay Holzendorf from Edo State, were outstanding in the boys and girls’ 14 finals.
Though he was already popular in Ondo State, not many tennis buffs on the national scene could say they knew Olawale until he matched the more prominent David Edwards stroke for stroke and showed great resilience to win the boys U-14 finals in two straight sets of 7-5, 6-1.
Also, Lorelay, another fantastic player, whose grit and passion was obvious on the court, showed AJC gold-winning Ndidi Osaji that she was the better player, as she dismissed Osaji in straight sets of 6-3, 6-4.
In the boys’ U-12 final, Chukwudubem Amasiam was ruthless against homeboy, Peter Ubiebi, defeating the latter, 6-3, 6-1 on centre court, while crowd favourite and budding sensation, Mofifunoluwa Atilola, was outplayed by Emmanuella Kwange from Niger State, in the girls’ U-12 finals. Kwange won 6-2, 6-2.
In a repeat of the 2022 final of the girls’ U-16 category, Bright Emmanuel, yet again, shone against her tough opponent, Khadijat Mohammed, battling to a 7-5, 6-3 win, to cement her place as the undisputed champion.
In the most fascinating final contest of the evening, John Nubari and Yahaya Sani slugged it out in the boys’ U-16 final on centre court of the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan.
Sani, a member of the all-conquering Team Nigeria to the recent AJC tournament in Togo, won the first set against his Rivers-based opponent in a match that ended 7-5, but Nubari showed why he is the player to beat.
The runner-up in the 2022 edition came out blazing in the second set with a 6-2 win before exciting the crowd with his technicality on court in the super tiebreaker, winning 10-4.
MD/CEO of Azimuth Shipping Lines Limited and sponsor of the tournament, Captain Stephen Owolabi Martins, expressed excitement at the level of competition in the closing matches of the competition, and promised to always ensure that the event gets bigger every year.
“You know that this year’s tournament is bigger than last year’s in terms of what we gave the kids… this is the standard we want to improve on every year. We always want to get better every year, and we believe that next year will be even bigger.
“Thank you to everyone who came around, and I pray that you return home safely, especially for those traveling,” he said at the closing ceremony.