LUKMAN OLOGUNRO

 

Russian-born Nigerian tennis star, Melissa Ifidzhen will be the centre of attraction this morning as she confront Henrietta Ogude in a first round match at the ongoing 37th Central Bank of Nigeria Open Tennis Championship holding at the National Stadium, Lagos.

The former Russian National junior champion started playing for Nigeria in March when she featured at the ITF/CAT U-18 Junior Championship in Egypt and is expected to scale the hurdle before her despite being a wild card entrant.

Melissa, born of a Nigerian father and a Russian mum, is aiming to go a step better than Elizabeth Garos-Pam, a London-based player who lost in the final on her first attempt last year.

Meanwhile, men’s singles defending champion, Abdulmumuni Babalola booking an easy passage to the second round with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Uche Okparaji.

In some other first round results, Moses Michael got the better of his Tombim teammate,  Christian Paul 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 while he (Moses) is joined by Martins Abamu and Thomas Otu, who respectively defeated Jinadu Owolabi and Taiwo Owolabi 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 and 6-4, 6-4 to progress to the second round.

Other players that secured their passage into the next round are Chukwuma Abba, who defeated Bala Musa 7-5, 7-6; Monday Igbinovia also keep his dream to go all the way  by beating Nnemeka Achisium 7-5, 6-4.

Also, 2013 men’s singles winner, Henry Atseye proved too much for Joseph Iyeruobe with a 6-2, 6-1 win.Hassan Yakubu outlasts Emma Dickson 7-6(6), 6-3 and Austin Nwokedi dumped Dauda Ayuba out with a 6-0, 6-3 win.