Second seed Joseph Imeh came from a set down to beat Emmanuel Ikakah 3-6 6-2 6-3 in the first round of the CBN Senior Tennis Open Championship on Monday.
Playing on Centre Court, Imeh conceded a shaky first set with 3-6 to Ikakah, ranked 29th on the latest National Ranking.
The second set was more straightforward, as Imeh put up powerful display expected of a player of his calibre.
However, the third set seemed destined for another defeat for Imeh, which would have been a major tournament upset, before he fought back to take the set 6-3.
Speaking with NAN shortly after the game, Imeh said first round games could be tricky but hoped to get better subsequently.
“It was a first round game and I just had to bring myself back to the game after a set down.
“I gave it my best in the end, but it was a game that brought the best out of both of us.”
He added that there were moments in the game when he became nervous, saying he has to do more in the aspect of mental strength.
“There was a time in the game when I became nervous, especially during the second set and when my opponent broke me in the third set.
“I felt I couldn’t just go down like that and I told myself that it’s either I win or lose this game. I think I have to work on the mental aspect of my game.
“From this game, I learnt that I need to pick myself up and keep my focus each time I go down,” he said.
His opponent, Ikakah, told NAN that he went into the game with a winning strategy in spite of not being the favourite but got distracted.
“I wanted to win and I had the mindset of winning but it just didn’t turn out the way I planned. I felt tight as the game went on and got distracted.
“Although my opponent stepped up his game a little bit, it was distraction that eventually cost me the game. However, it was a good game and I take the lessons learnt from it,” he said.
NAN reports that Monday’s first round fixtures of the championship were delayed for several hours due to an early morning downpour in Abuja.
In the women’s game, Omolayo Bamidele saw off Christy Mbadiwe, who struggled with a shoulder injury throughout the game, 6-7 6-1 6-2 to advance to the second round.
The 2019 CBN Senior Tennis Open is the 41st edition of the tournament and features four categories: men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles and women’s doubles.
It also has the men’s and women’s singles wheel chair categories.
The competition, which started on Thursday is expected to end on Saturday, June 29.
(Edited by Olawale Alabi)
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