Ageing Nigerian tennis star, Abdulmumin Babalola was a major casualty in the first round of qualifiers at the ongoing Lagos Open Tennis International Championship following a 6-1, 6-2 loss to his compatriot, Emmanuel Idoko.
Babalola, with nearly three decades of tennis experience, could not cope with the aggressive play of Idoko, who wrapped up the match in just over an hour.
“I was not in good shape but that is not an excuse because he (Idoko) played better,” he said after the match at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan.
Babalola, the players’ representatives on the Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF) board, however, promised to bounce back in the second week.
On a weekend of mixed fortune for Nigerians, Taiwo Owolabi and Michael Michael progressed with 6-0, 6-0 and 7-5, 6-3 wins over Gerard Codino of France and Sammy Miruiki of Kenya respectively. Christian Paul, Olaniyi ibiwoye and Mohammed Mohammed, who were drawn bye, joined them.
But it was the end of the road for former national champion, Henry Atseye, as he was beaten 7-5, 6-2 by Sheil Kotecha of Kenya, while Ridwan Morakinyo succumbed 6-4, 6-1 to Arnaud Sewanou of Benin.
Paul Emmanuel also strolled to the next stage with a double bagel over Olisaemeka Okafor in an all-Nigeria affair.
In the women’s singles, Patience Onebamhoin cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 win over Ronke Akingbade, while Osarieman Airhunmwunde advanced at the expense of Abiodun Oyegoke 6-2, 6-2.
Germany’s Jasmin Jebawy also moved to the next stage by beating Shufaa Changawa 6-3, 6-2 just as Olga Brodza of Poland edged Diana Mihail of Romania by the same scoreline.
The main draw of the two-phase $100,000 prize-money ITF tournament will serve off today with more than six Nigerians expected to be in action.
Tournament Coordinator, Prince Wale Oladunjoye promised fans of high-class tennis due to the upgrading of the tournament.