Group stage action took centre stage at the Zenith Bank ‘Next Gen’ Junior Tennis Masters in Lagos on Tuesday. The event, which is betwen the best junior players in Nigeria, according to their national ranking, got off to a good start at the National Tennis Centre in Surulere.

In Group A of the boys category, defending champion, Phillip Abayomi kick-started his campaign in commanding fashion, as he breezed past Tochukwu Ezeh 6-2, 6-4. Still in the same group, last year’s beaten finalist, Godsgift Timibra toughed out a tight opening set win against Sani Musa before going on to register a 7-5, 6-4 victory.

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Tochukwu Ezeh didn’t get the start he had hoped for.

In Group B, 17-year-old Musa Mohammed wasted little time beating Michael Ayoola, as he dropped only 3 games, in a 6-1, 6-2 rout. Mohammed had competed in all three events on the ITF World Tennis Tour in Abuja two months ago, and will be looking to have a memorable run in Lagos this week. Elsewhere, Emmanuel Jebutu did well to overcome a stern test, rallying from a set down to beat Michael Osewa 3-6, 6-3, 11-9.

In the girls’ field, Omolayo Bamidele, Favour Moses, Chidinma Ezeh and Destiny Okhinaye were all in action in Group A, with Bamidele and Moses bagging victories.

Bamidele, who is fresh off a title-run at the SNEPCo Futures Tennis Championship, proved too solid for Destiny Okhinaye in a straightforward 6-3, 6-4 victory, while Favour Moses registered a 6-4, 6-1 win over Chidinma Ezeh.

In Group B, Omolade Aderemi, who finished as a semi-finalist at the SNEPCo Futures Tennis Championship last month, comfortably opened her account here with a 6-4, 6-1 win, while Toyosi Adeusi recovered from a sloppy start to seal a nervy 1-6, 6-4, 14-12 victory over Rebecca Ekpeyong.

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Toyosi Adeusi shrugged off the disappointment of a poor first set display to fight her way to victory.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s tennis prodigy, Marylove Edwards, who is based in the US and received a wildcard after indicating interest to compete, opted for the ITF Zimbabwe Junior Championship at the last minute.

This tournament, which is parading the top eight players between the ages of 16 and 19 in the country, is aimed at prepping the top juniors to take over from the seniors and then move on to the professional circuit. It will also serve to prepare the players who will participate in the CBN Senior Open, which serves off later this month.

Round-robin action continues on Wednesday at 9:00am. The best two players from each group at the end of the round-robin matches will qualify for the semifinals which is slated for Friday.