The Nigerian team produced a near-impeccable performance against the Togolese team in the boys’ category of the AJC Finals qualifiers for Under-12, winning 3-0 to move to second on the log in Group B, while the girls’ team fell short, as they went down 1-2 to host nation, Benin at the Tennis Club de l’Amitié on Thursday.
The girls’ team opened up the day’s action for Nigeria against Benin Republic, and they did so strongly. Salamatu Haruna squared off against Benin’s Ijeoma Udensi in the 1st singles rubber, and quickly raced to a 6-1 first set win. Udensi then put up a gritty display in the second set to open up a 4-2 lead, but Salamatu would put her foot on the gas to win the next four games and close out the match 6-1, 6-4.
Imole Afolabi took to court for Nigeria in the 2nd singles, but failed to assert control early on, leaving her Beninese opponent to take the first set 6-3. And despite Imole’s valiant display in the second set, it was the Beninese who did just enough to make it through, securing the match 6-3, 7-5 to level the tie.
In the doubles rubber, Salamatu, who had earlier secured victory for Nigeria in the 1st singles, teamed up with Niniola Ajulo, but were edged 6-3, 7-6. It’s the girls’ second defeat in as many days, and the result means they can no longer qualify for the African Junior Finals scheduled for September in Morocco.
The girls, however, completed their tie against Ghana. Trailing 0-2 from Wednesday’s action against the Ghanaian team, the doubles match was left to play, and Salamatu joined forces with Imole Afolabi this time, to secure a 6-3, 6-2 win, setting the overall score against Ghana at 1-2.
Elsewhere, on Court 1, the boys turned on a virtually flawless performance to beat the Togolese team 3-0. Similar to Day 1, Seun Ogunshakin put the boys team ahead with a commanding 6-0, 6-2 win against Xavier Gakpo. Precious Ikeuba would get in on the action in the 2nd singles, and build on the momentum. Ikeuba stayed in control from the get-go, dazzling his opponent, Enock Lawson, with his excellent play and doing well to hand the Togolese a double bagel, securing the match in style.
Seun Ogunshakin returned to court, this time alongside Mohammed Idris for the doubles rubber, where they thrashed the Togolese, dropping only four games en route to a no-nonsense 6-2, 6-2 win.
The boys are currently joint second with Sierra Leone, whom they will face on Friday. A victory for the Nigerians will seal second position and also guarantee a semifinal spot.
In the other Group B match, host nation, Benin defeated Sierra Leone to remain atop the log.