Like the ‘Dammam Miracle’ at Saudi ’89 FIFA U-20 World Cup, where the Flying Eagles recovered from 0-4 to win a quarterfinal match against Russia, the NCC Tennis League Blue Group match in Port Harcourt witnessed a great comeback over the weekend, as Blessing Samuel of Team Kalotari clawed back from being 2-6, 0-5 down to prevail against Team Muller’s Ronke Akingbade 2-6, 7-6, 6-3.
It was a crucial round robin tie between Team Kalotari of Port Harcourt and Team Muller of Lagos.
The match, which saw a catalogue of errors and winners in the very dramatic second set will live in the memories of the spectators as set points changed hands at least 10 times before Samuel finally clinched the set. A disappointed Akingbade could not recover and lost the final set handily.
The victory, which had Team Kalotari lead 2-1 on the opening day could not save the Port Harcourt team, as an angry Team Muller came on the second day to sweep the reverse singles and the men’s doubles to clinch the tie and, effectively, a semifinal spot.
Before then, Joseph Imeh defeated Christian Paul 6-2- 4-6, 6-3, while Emmanuel Sunday beat Emmanuel Idoko 6-4, 6-4 in the men’s singles. Imeh thrashed Sunday 6-2, 6-0 and paired Mohammed Mohammed to win the men’s doubles against Sunday and Paul 7-5, 6-3. Idoko made up for his first singles loss by overcoming Paul 7-5, 6-3 in the second reverse singles.
Team Kalotari mixed doubles team of Samuel and Ikechukwu Iloputa consoled their fans by winning the mixed doubles against Mohammed and Akingbade 6-4, 6-1.
The two other ties in Ilorin and Lagos were not as eventful, as Team Optiweb lost only one match against visiting Team Oluyole of Ibadan, while Team Civil Defence kept a clean slate in their match against the VGC Lions in Lagos
At the elite VGC Club in the Victoria Garden City, Lekki – Lagos, the VGC Lions could not breach the defence of the Civil Defence team, which had two former national men’s singles champions and the current women’s champion in their fold and lost 0-7.
Clifford Enosoregbe proved too strong for 2014 national junior champion, Martins Abamu, whom he beat 6-3, 6-2 in the first match; Stanley Madueke followed with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Aniekan Pius and national champion, Christie Agugbom finished off the day’s singles matches by defeating Lovette Donatus 6-4, 6-4. The doubles pair of Abdulmumuni Babalola and Michael Michael also proved too strong for VGC Lions’ Abamu brothers – George and Martins – who were beaten 6-3, 6-3.