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TPPA-UTR Nationals: How South-South Dominated List Of Most Outstanding Players

During the closing ceremony to mark the end of the TPPA-UTR National Junior Tennis Classics in Lagos, five players were adjudged the most outstanding.

Toluwalase Agunbiade, Emannuella Kwange, Josiah Essien, Marvelous Bolarinwa and Precious Aliya were all invited to the podium and praised for their performances during the week-long UTR competition held inside the tennis section of the Lagos Country Club, Ikeja.

Asides being publicly appreciated for their giant strides, these players were also also rewarded with N100,000 each in educational grant, as a way of further encouraging them to do more.

Of these players announced as the most outstanding, three of them – Agunbiade (Cross River), Essien (Akwa-Ibom) and Aliya (Bayelsa) – come from the south-south region of Nigeria while the remaining two – Kwange (Niger) and Bolarinwa (FCT) are from the northern region.

READ ALSO: TPPA-UTR Nationals: Lagos, Ekiti Dominate Winners’ List

This does look like a direct consequence of how much work is being done to develop tennis players in the south-south, and to also show that there is something the coaches out there are doing which is obviously rubbing off on their players.

Nigeria Tennis Live takes a look at each of these players and x-rays a bit of their performances before and during the championship.

Toluwalase Agunbiade:
Agunbiade reached the finals of the girls U-16 event, losing only to the experience of Aina Goodnews of Ekiti State and looked really comfortable playing on clay all week.

She is one of those players, as we mentioned pre-game, that can hurt you when you least expect, and that was what she put Goodnews through in that final match, even though she lost.

But in retrospect, she is also one of the more experienced players in the championship, as she has been competing in national and international events for a while now, alongside her brother, Damilola.

The quality possessed by this player was on full display during her matches en route to reaching the final, a clear indication of how much confidence one derives from playing quality matches frequently.

Josiah Essien
8-year-old Josiah Essien and his dad, after his first match at the ongoing TPPA-UTR National Junior Tennis Classics in Lagos.

Precious Aliya:
Precious is not your every day defensive player unless he is pushed to the ropes. He is one solid aggressive player who does not joke with his big serves.

His serves are a really big advantage for him and with the infamous ‘serve and volley’ part to his game, he doesn’t seem to have many difficulties closing up games.

In fact, he is one player with different varieties to his game accompanied by good footwork, and if you’re a good attacker, he is very good to defend too. A really difficult player to get past.

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At the UTR event that just ended, Aliya was the only player who defeated eventual winner, David Edwards, in the round robin matches. That goes a long way to show how much ability this guy has.

With a lot more tournaments under his belt, this young man will be completely unplayable in coming years.

Josiah Essien:
One name to remember from this year’s TPPA-UTR National Junior Tennis Classics is Josiah.

This young man came into the competition like he had a point to prove. He carries strength, confidence, courage, precision and a deadly fight with him whenever he takes to the court.

The fact that he made this list despite the fact that his matches ended in losses speaks to how good this youngster is, and how much the organizers are rooting for him in the coming years.

For a player of his age, the confidence that he possesses is enough to take on any player in the world, and that’s one of the ingredients young and upcoming players need for their matches.

Young Essien may be going back without any winner’s medal to his name, but he returns to his people with his head high and the assurance that if he keeps playing the way he did in Lagos, it will not be too long before the laurels start coming in.



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