David Ekpenyong and MaryLove Edwards on Saturday emerged winners of the 45th Central Bank of Nigeria Senior National Open Tennis Championship men and women’s singles event in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the championships, which served off on Monday, came to an end on Saturday.
Number two seed Ekpenyong won his first CBN Senior Open title on Saturday in Abuja after his opponent, number one seed Uche Oparaoji, was forced to retire with a shoulder injury, while trailing 6-1, 4-1.
Ekpenyong got off to a flying start in the contest by winning his opening service game, before the Davnotch Open champion, with an early break at 3-1, then wrapped up the opening set.
Oparaoji, playing in the second singles final in the space of three weeks, called for a medical timeout after losing the opening game of the second set before quitting the match midway.
Victory ensured the Vemp Open runner up, Ekpenyong, who coincidentally lost to Oparaoji in the final a fortnight ago, won his second title in Abuja following his DavNotch Open triumph.
The 17-year-old Ekpenyong told NAN that it was a sweet victory for him as he avenged his earlier defeat in the final to his fierce rival.
He said: “I am elated and feel very fulfilled having won my first CBN Senior title.
“It has been my life-long dream to win this title having won the junior U14 category.
“I participate in this tournament every year and also watch people win the final.
“I always wished it will be me and here I am now holding the much coveted trophy.”
According to Ekpenyong, his opponent is someone he is very much familiar with having played him four times now.
He added: “He beat me at the Dala Hard Court tournament in Kano in November, before I returned the favour at the Rain Oil tournament in Lagos in December.
“I also lost to him at the Vemp Open final here two weeks ago, and so besides winning my first CBN title, I was also determined and focused on winning today so as to even our head-to-head record.”
On his winning formula, the tall and hard-hitting Ekpenyong said he had to go back to the drawing board after his painful loss to his opponent at the Vemp Open.
“I had to step up my game and play more aggressively this time around. I went for my shots and didn’t hold back because I had nothing to lose,” he said.
Oparaoji on his part admitted that he had been nursing the shoulder injury right from the onset of the tournament, adding that he kept playing through the pain until he couldn’t hold it any more.
He said: “I tried my best to play and tried very hard to endure the excruciating pain until I couldn’t manage it anymore.
“The doctor advised me to take a two-week break from playing and that’s why I had to retire in the second set.”
In the women’s singles event, first seed, Edwards, continued with her ruthless form as she dismissed number two seed, Aanu Aiyegbusi, 6-2, 6-3 to claim a third straight title in a row in Abuja.
NAN reports that the country’s top ranked female player had won both the 2023 VEMP Open as well as the DavNotch Tennis Open Championship titles in Abuja coming into this tournament.
The number one showed no signs of fatigue as she raced through the first set and then had to come from 3-0 down in the second set to wrap up the match.
In the men’s doubles event, Matthew Abamu and Chima Michael teamed up to defeat the pair of Albert Bikom and Peter Lawal who had to retire 7-5, 4-4 with scores even in the second set.
In the Wheelchair tennis men’s event, top seed, Alex Adewale, eased past Williams Ukari in an incredible 6-2, 6-2 victory, to claim his 11th consecutive title at the CBN Open.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s number one female player, Kafayat Omisore, claimed the women’s title after a hard-fought 7-6 (2), 6-4 victory against Kemi Oluwasegun.