Abuja-based Chubuike Amasiani cried his way to the Boys 10 title Saturday, after surviving a scare from Adepoju Basit in the final of the MTN Junior Tennis Champion at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club.
Amasiani, 9, who won the explosive clash 9-8, had taken off to a good start, leading 4-1 in the pro-set, when Basit, 10, cheered on by club members and teammates, started a comeback that saw the gap close to 4-5.
Amasiani, upset by the one-sided support and perceived bad calls from the chair umpire, cried intermittently to his mother, Judith, who encouraged him to play on. The match was subsequently moved to a backcourt and the umpire changed.
Away from the centre court and a new umpire, the very talented leftie calmed down and saved a match point to finally achieve a hard-earned victory.
His older brother, Chukwudubem, who celebrated his 11th birthday during the championship, was not as lucky, as one of Nigeria’s most promising junior talents, Murewa Egbeyemi, from Lagos won convincingly 9-4.
The Boys 16s defending champion, Seun Ogunsakin, was upset by perennial rival, Mubarak Ganiyu, in a closely contested final. Ganiyu from Ondo edged Ogunsakin (Ekiti) 9-8.
The Girls 14 event was won by Etoro Emmanuel from Akwa Ibom, who defeated Mary Iorlumun from Benue, while the Girls 12 was won by a very confident Lorelay Holzendoff from Edo, who dismissed Favour Okon-James from Akwa Ibom 9-0.
Holzendoff and Damilola Agunbiade won the most outstanding players for the girls and boys categories respectively.
Meanwhile, the Lagos inauguration of the Sports Performance Reward Fund, which followed the tournament finals, grossed a total of N4.01m, to bring the total in the fund’s kitty to over N7m.
The chief launcher at the event, Professor Wale Sulaiman, an acclaimed neurosurgeon who practices in New Orleans, Lagos and London, said he was an “occasional ball boy” at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club on his way back from St Gregory’s College, a walking distance.