Nigerian youngsters continued to impress at the ITF/CAT Circuit Junior L’Afrique De L’Quest in Lome, Togo, with Abayomi Philips, Joshua Aji, Emmanuel Jebutu and Michael Osewa all winning their respective matches in the boys field to advance to the third round of the Grade 4 hard-court tournament.
17-year-old Philips, however, had to dig deep to stave off an inspired challenge from Seydina Andre before going on to win 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. The Nigerian will play Reginald Okantey of Ghana for a place in the quarter-finals on Wednesday, as he continues his bid for a second ITF Junior crown.
Joshua Aji, too, needed three sets to advance; the youngster beating another Ghanaian, Emmanuel Wettey 7-5, 1-6, 6-1. After battling through a tight and tricky opening set, Aji lost concentration in the second set. That lapse was, thankfully for the Nigerian, momentary. And by the third set, he was back to his best, as he kept his nose in front to power to victory.
Up next for Aji is No. 4 seed, Vence N’tcha of Benin, who defeated India’s Yash Nagdev 6-4, 7-6 in his own second-rounder.
Elsewhere, Emmanuel Jebutu produced a solid performance to oust last week’s champion, Kodjo Charles in straight-sets. Charles, the home favourite and 3rd seed, was bidding for a second consecutive title on the ITF Junior Circuit, but couldn’t contain the extra firepower of Jebutu, as he was beaten 7-5, 6-3 by the Nigerian.
Jebutu will look to keep up the momentum, when he takes on Dylan Bruce of Benin in Wednesday’s third-rounder.
Away on the grounds, Michael Osewa didn’t have to spend too much time on court in his second round match, as his opponent Paul Ngouadjio retired after the first set. Osewa was leading 6-2 before the Cameroonian called it quits due to injury. Osewa will meet 10th-seeded Indian, Jaishvin Sidana in the third round on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, in the boys’ doubles event, Osewa and his Indian partner, Yash Nagdev couldn’t do much, as they were beaten by the Czech pair of Mathias Musil and Boris Stastny 6-2, 6-1.
Also, the duo of Abayomi Philips and Ghana’s Said El-Mahmoud fell to a 6-4, 6-3 defeat at the hands of the Moroccan-Malian pair of Mustapha Benmira and Bourama Kouma.
Action continues in the girls’ field on Wednesday, with teen phenom, Marylove Edwards up against the tournament’s third seed, Gauri Bhagia of India for a place in the quarter-finals.
Edwards had beaten Cameroon’s Manuella Nga in straight sets in the first round on Monday and will now try to stay on track in the Togolese capital.