Like most tournaments across the globe, the DavNotch Senior Open was not without a lot of drama, upsets and intrigues. It surely lived up to its billing as a National Tournament.
With players in their second week of a three-week marathon of national tennis events in Nigeria’s Federal Capital, the fitness level had been raised already, so, the DavNotch competition, coming at the time the time it did, was a true test of character, grit and fitness.
Since its inception in 2021, the tournament has not had the same person win two editions back to back, apart from Oyinlomo Quadre’s impeccable performances in 2021 and 2022. But in the Men’s Singles event, a new winner has emerged in each edition, a sign of how competitive tournament is.
Joseph Imeh and Oyinlomo Quadre won the maiden edition of the event in 2021, Wilson Igbinovia and Oyinlomo Quadre were crowned champions in 2022 and the 2023 episode of the tournament presented a fresh of breath air.
David Ekpenyong and Marylove Edwards, arguably Nigeria’s most in form players in country, went home with the coveted prize monies for the Men and Women’s Singles winners. It was another dream come true for the sponsor and organizers of the competition.
The week-long competition, which kicked off with the Main Draw on Monday, 15 May, 2023, ran till Saturday, 20 May, inside the Tennis Section of the national Stadium in Abuja, with the players treating fans and spectators to and intensive and stimulating tennis fiasco day in day out.
In the Men’s Wheelchair Tennis event, Alex Adewale and Williams Ukari proved why they’re Nigeria’s best players at the moment, by battling for yet another finale.
But, as expected, Adewale, a former US-Open player, carried day, to continue his dominance in Nigeria’s wheelchair tennis championship.
Kafayat Omisore remains a thorn in the flesh of all the female tennis players in the country as she stormed to yet another win in the Women’s Wheelchair Tennis final which cemented her place as the undisputed champion of the game.
Pre-tournament favourite in the Men’s Singles, Uche Oparaoji, was dumped out in the first round of the competition, in an unprecedented turn of events in Abuja.
His defeat came as a shock to many tennis followers as the Nigerian number one player had only just won the VEMP Open tournament, and was automatically expected to go far in the DavNotch competition. But the worst had yet to be seen.
Omolayo Bamidele, an outstanding junior player, battled her way to the finals, where she took on power playing double-handed backhand player, Marylove Edwards.
Bamidele, the Nigerian number eight player, who was arguably the player of the tournament, proved to be a tough nut to crack for Edwards, a former US-based player, before succumbing to the fierceness of her opponent who took the tournament in two straight sets.
In the Men’s Singles finale, the battle royale between buzzing teenager, David Ekpenyong and extremely talented Peter Lawal gave the spectators a lot to cheer about.
Ekpenyong, Nigeria’s highest ranked junior player on the Junior ITF Circuit, showed how much he has improved over the years by coming out clutch in the match, even though his lack of experience on this stage almost kicked in.
With the game delicately poised at 1-5 in favour of Ekpenyong in the first set, Lawal, who was playing in his consecutive DavNotch final, held serve, broke his opponent and held serve again to pile the pressure on the junior star and drag the game to a 5-4 score with Ekpenyong to serve.
But the African number 9 junior tennis player dug deep to cause more harm for his opponent who would later struggle for the remaining part of the match due to cramping.
Coaches and tennis enthusiasts who watched the match inside the centre court of the National Stadium Abuja, agreed that it was worthy of a national tournament final.
“This is what a national tournament final should look like,” former Davis Cup Captain, John Atiomo, told Nigeria Tennis Live on the sidelines of the competition in Abuja.
“The level of competition was really high. We saw a player who has been on the junior tennis tour for a while take on a player who played the final here last year.
“This is a really good one for tennis in Nigeria, and I’m proud that this kind of tournament is holding ahead of our Davis Cup competition,” he added.
For Mr. Norbert Osodi, the Managing Director of DavNotch Nigeria Limited and sponsor of the tournament, it was another fulfilling week of tennis competition in Abuja.
And if the words of the NTF President, Engr. Dayo Akindoju, are anything to go by, the sponsors are happy to continue hosting the DavNotch Senior Open competition every year.
Speaking also, after the tournament, Engr. Akindoju stated that both male players who played the enthralling finale will be selected to join the Davis Cup team for Nigeria ahead of the July competition.
“I am happy to announce to you that the players who played the finals of the Men’s Singles will be part of the team that’ll be representing Nigeria at the Davis Cup in July.
“That is to show you the level of competitiveness witnessed today in the Men’s finals,” he added.
More pictures from the finale of the event are shared below: