The 2017 NCC Tennis Tournament has yet produced another champions offset with the dethronement of 2016 champions Team Offikwu at the competition which was organized by the International Tennis Academy and sponsored by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The winners of the tournament which is in its third year running is Team Civil Defence which defeated Team Muller to win the competition.
At the keenly contested competition, last year’s winner, Kaduna-based Team Offikwu came third, winning the N3 million cash reward, while Team Ndoma-Egba was awarded the N2 million cash money for the fourth position.
In his speech at the tournament, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta, noted that the impact the tournament has made in Nigerian sports, especially, the tennis arena.
The EVC, who was represented by the Director, Research and Development Department at the NCC,Mrs. Abigail Sholanke, expressed the Commission’s pleasure at hosting the Tennis Cup which has turned out to the biggest addition to Nigerians sports since 1960. He further dedicated the grand finale as a tribute to late Nigeria’s former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, who passed away recently.
It will be recalled that 2016 edition had Dr. Ekwueme and Former Nigerian International tennis star, NdukaOdizor in attendance.
According to Prof. Danbatta, “The impact, which this tournament has made in the Nigerian tennis circuit gives us in the NCC a lot of satisfaction and fulfillment and we are proud to have used this opportunity to engage a number of Nigerian youth in very fruitful and engaging enterprise with a bright future outlook. We are even prouder to have taken quality tennis to different locations in the country and to see the players improving by the day due to the regular competitions the league offers.”
He further expressed his joy that some young Nigerians who were part of the tennis competition had gotten scholarships and sponsorships to tennis academies abroad, where they will combine studies with their professional tennis careers.
He said: “I am glad that the cream of the best and promising Nigerian female and male players are all participating in the league, and that a good number of them are now ranked on the ATP Tour. These are some of our expectations and we hope that the players will take full advantage of this NCC Tennis League Cup to excel.”
According to the EVC, the major objective of the tournament is to contribute to the overall development of Nigeria through sports using tennis adding that through tennis offers the potential to engage, motivate, entertain and keep youth physically fit and mentally focused. He further pointed out that the best promising Nigerian male and female players participated in the league and that a many of them are now raked on the ATP Tour.
In his speechafter handing over the star prize to the winners, Corporate Relations Executive at MTN Nigria, TobeOkigbo said that the telecom company’s involvement in the competition was in line with the value addition and youth’s talent development agenda of MTN.
According to him: “We like supporting value-addition projects. In this case, we saw what NCC is doing and it makes a lot of sense to be part of it. We saw it as an opportunity to support ambitious young Nigerians, especially in developing their skills and talents”.
Team Civil Defence went home with the Trophy and a cheque of N7 million while the first, second and third place runners-up went home with a cheque of N5 million, N3 million and N2 million respectively in the competition which witnessed 12 teams playing across the country.
This year’s participating teams included Teams Tech Vibe from Jos; Civil Defence, Abuja; Oluyole, Ibadan; VGC Lions, Lagos; Goshen; Muller; NdomaEgba; Offikwu; Kalotari; Yetade; CBN Futures and Optiweb.
Dignitaries that witnessed the final event included newly appointed Chairman of the Lagos State Sports Commission, DrKwekuTandoh; President, Nigeria Aquatics Federation, Mr. BabatundeFatayi-Williams; Chairman, Ikoyi Club 1938, Mr. TundeAkinleye and some senior staff of the NCC and MTN, among others.