The Abuja-based Uche Oparaoji and Marylove Edwards who championed the maiden edition of Lagos Tennis Cup, have successfully maintained their titles in the second edition of the championship on Sunday 9th October at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan.
Thel tournament, which involves the top 8 ranked men and women’s players in Nigeria, ended on a fascinating note as the duo of Oparaoji and Peter Lawal served up a slugfest that lasted four hours and 20 minutes, and included a third set tiebreak before Oparaoji finally put Lawal to the sword 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (8).
It was easily the longest game in the short history of the Lagos Tennis Cup, and almost quadrupled the 1hr 15 minutes of last year’s finals.
The spectators were split in their support as they oohed and aahed while raucously celebrating, or ruing, every point made by both players. Oparaoji regained conscious by building a 4-0 lead in the deciding set, after he had earlier lost the opening set to level the match at one all, but Lawal refused to be beaten.
The third seed fought back to level the match at 4-4 before two more games apiece forced a tiebreak. Once again Oparaoji raced to a 6-3 lead, and once again Lawal found new life to claw his way back into the match after levelling at 6-6. Oparaoji then grabbed the following two points before collapsing on the court in celebration like his idol Rafa Nadal.
The day’s proceedings had started at 1.30pm with the women’s final which was a rematch between Edwards and rising star Oiza Yakubu, following their three-set group stage thriller in which the latter shocked the top seed in the first set before losing the following two sets.
This time Edwards was more prepared for the challenge as she ruthlessly blew past Yakubu 6-1, 6-1 to claim her second straight title and, like the men’s champion, smiled home with half-a-million-naira in prize money. Her opponent got N250,000, but will take even more encouragement from seeing how much she has closed the gap on the frontrunners.