The battle line has been drawn between the finalists of the Azimuth Shipping Lines Limited Junior Tennis Championship as the competition comes to a close on Saturday.
Friday saw many of the players who recently returned from Togo pulling off impressive wins and qualifying for the final of the tournament with impressive performances.
Yahaya Sani, a member of the all-conquering Team Nigeria to the African Junior Tennis Championship in Togo, had to dig deep to emerge winner in his U-16 semifinal clash against Lagos-based Basit Ajao. He won 6-2, 6-4 and will now face John Nubari from River State in a mouthwatering finale.
Nubari, another impressive and interesting U-16 talent, was too strong for another Lagos-based youngster, Emmanuel Musa, as he won in two straight sets of 6-2, 6-2 to land in the finals of the competition.
In the Girls U-16 games, Khadijat Mohammed from Abuja, landed in her consecutive final but it did not come easy as Ekiti-based Success Ogunjobi made her fight for her qualification. The match ended 6-4, 6-3, a clear indication of the fight put in by both players.
Her nemesis in the finale of the 2022 edition, Bright Emmanuel, awaits her in the final, in a repeat of their Girls U-14 match at the AJC in Togo last week.
Bright, one of the most underrated youngsters, defeated her friend from the Apapa Tennis Club, Ndifreke Benjamin 6-2, 4-2 (rtd) to set up a final clash against Khaadijat.
One of the most interesting matches played on Friday was between David Edwards and Yahuza Bello. Even though the former won in two sets, it was a game with heightened emotions and bold calls by the umpire.
Edwards, another Togo returnee, had won the first set 6-1 and was already condemned to a defeat in the second after his Niger State-based opponent raced quickly to a 5-2 lead.
But in an inexplicable manner, Bello lost two set points at 40-15 and allowed Edwards back into the game. He remained stunted on his score until David dug deep and won 7-5 to the admiration of his father and coach who was cheering on from the stands.
To emerge as the eventual winner, the youngster will have to show that his comeback against Bello was not a fluke, and do even better when he plays against Olawale Gbolahan.
Ndidi Osaji, a member of the victorious Team Nigeria at the AJC in Togo, qualified for the final after beating Fareehah Adam 6-4, 6-1 but will have to do better when she faces Lorelay Holzendorf who annihilated Precious Ohima 6-0, 6-0.
In the boys U-12 final, home boy, Peter Ubiebi, whose tennis development has been eye-catching and noticeably impressive, was ruthless against Praise David Crown, as he won 6-0, 6-2 to face-off against Chukwudubem Amasiam who also dispatched Effiong Wisdom 6-3, 6-1.
Fans favourite and talented Genesis Tennis Academy player, Mofifunoluwa Atilola was also impeccable in her match against Gloria Samuel, even though she had to rely on her skills and grit to win 6-4, 6-3 to set up a must-watch finale against relentless Emmanuella Kwange from Niger State.
Kwange on her path was responsible for the defeat of Mabubat Razaaq with an impressive 6-0, 6-1 win.
The final matches are scheduled to start by 10am on Saturday, and tennis lovers, enthusiasts and followers are expected at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan, Lagos, for the showdown