The Nigerian tennis team got off to a good start at the African Games in Rabat on Friday, with Sylvester Emmanuel producing a strong performance to beat Mali’s Seydou Diallo in three sets and advance to the second round.
The 21-year-old Emmanuel, who’s seeded 16th at the event, rallied from an opening set loss to secure a 2-6, 6-4, 6-0 victory.
Diallo had broken Emmanuel twice in the first set to run away with it, but Emmanuel returned the favour in the second to force a third set. The Nigerian then turned on the heat and proved too hot for the Malian, handing him a bagel to close out the match in 2 hours and 18 minutes.
Up next for Emmanuel is Ivory Coast’s Guininle Ouattara, who defeated Andriatoavina Ratsimandresy of Madagascar 7-6, 6-0.
Elsewhere, Thomas Otu came up short in his opening round match, as he was beaten in straight sets by Isaac Nortey of Ghana. Nortey secured a 6-3, 6-2 win in 77 minutes.
The Games continue on Saturday, with Joseph Imeh and Emmaneul Sunday in men’s singles action. Imeh will take on Abdoulaye Bagayoko of Mali, while Sunday goes head-to-head with Madagascar’s Fenosoa Rasendra.
In the women’s event, the Nigerian players all received first-round byes. Oyinlomo Quadre, who’s seeded 11th, will take on Fudia Kargbo of Sierra Leone in the second round, while Blessing Samuel squares off against Tunisian 13th seed, Ben Hassen. The UK-based Adesuwa Osabuohein meets Kenya’s Faith Omurunga, while Aanu Aiyegbusi lock horns with home favourite, Sara Akid, who’s seeded No.12, in the second round.