Team Tombim of Abuja Saturday in Lagos emerged champions of the maiden NCC Tennis League and with it the record N5 million prize money for the winning team.
Team Tombim made up of the new generation of players, beat Team Civil Defence 4-2 in the seven match championship decider with the final mixed doubles match becoming inconsequential.
Christian Paul, 22, ranked a lowly 27 in the current national rankings, turned out to be the surprise hero of the championship tie as he beat former No.1 Abdulmumuni Babalola in the first singles and then immediate past national champion, Christian Enosoregbe in the match that clinched the tie for his team.
|Team Tombim Captain, Henry Atseye, Coach Abe Babatunde holding the trophy after winning the inaugural NCC Tennis League last weekend in Lagos.|
Team Tombim had carried a 2-1 lead into the final day but national ladies’ champion, Christie Agugbom, leveled the tie after shaking off a very nervous start to beat Sarah Adegoke 1-6, 6-4, 6-2.
The champions reestablished their lead when Moses Michael defeated Babalola 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the fifth rubber and Paul dashed hopes of a dramatic finish by winning the second reverse singles.
Team Civil Defence got the runner-up prize of N3 million.
The third place match which was decided earlier in the week had Team Kalotari of Port Harcourt defeating Team Ogun from Abeokuta 5-2. Kalotari got the third place prize of N2 million while Team Ogun bagged N1 million.
The grand finale attracted top level dignitaries with the first vice president of Nigeria Sir Alex Ekwueme and Professor Bolaji Akinyemi attending as special guests of honour. The Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, was represented by the commissioner of Sports Deji Tinubu.
The NCC Tennis League which has become the most spectator friendly event in Nigeria ended on a highly jubilant note with hausa, ibo and yoruba traditional dances as well as raffle draws for state-of-the-art smart phones.
The tennis league which started in April featured eight teams which played in two round robin groups in eight different cities and offered a total prize money of N11 million.