No fewer than two Nigerian players have made it to the second round of the Dayak Championship presently going on in Abuja.
Naija Tennis Special checks revealed that the duo of Christian Paul and Sylvester Emmanuel fought really hard to advance to the next stage of the tournament as the boys are gradually being separated from the men.
Paul got the better of fellow Nigerian player and current national champion, Thomas Otu, in a keenly contested encounter which lasted well over two hours - the longest in the tournament so far - and had each set decided with a tie breaker.
|Eyes on the ball... Christian Paul's concentration helped him move to the next round of the Dayak Open. Photo: Ewaoche Ameh.|
The match which ended in a 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 7-6 (10), showed how much the players understood each other's game and how much they looked forward to making it to the second round of the $25,000 championship.
Sylvester on the other hand, almost lost his cool against America's Aron Pierce, but soon gathered momentum to finish the game in two straight sets of 6-4, 6-4.
The Nigerian star who was leading 5-1 in the first set, could not keep up with the tempo with which he started the game - he raced to a 3-0 lead - and faltered many times, giving Pierce who secured a Main Draw berth through the qualifiers, a glimmer of hope.
|Sylvester Emmanuel is now through to the next stages of both the singles and doubles events. But for how long will this last?|
Major, as the Spain-based Nigerian tennis prodigy is fondly called, however, showed how much experience he had gathered over the years, and ended the game after one hour 22 minutes.
The other Nigerian hopeful for a place in the second round, Clifford Enosoregbe, put up a spirited display during his encounter with Mateusz Smolicki, but could not keep up with the fire power of the Polish player.
Enosoregbe ended both sets with his head high, losing (5)6-7, (5)6-7 in a match which was said to have been characterized by injuries to the Nigerian player.
As it stands, the Nigerian players remaining in the tournament already have their works cut out for them as they have even stronger oppositions to overcome to stand any chance of advancing in this championship.