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‘ITF World Tennis Tour events is making Nigeria tourism destination’


One of the top seeds participating in the on-going ITF World Tennis Tour events in Abuja, Sadio Doumbia of France

• Ex-NTF Boss Ndanusa Lauds Sponsors
• Again, Jomby Beats Kalenichenko

Former Sports Minister and President of the Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF), Engineer Sani Ndanusa, has praised the sponsors of the ITF World Tour events in Abuja, applauding their consistency and efforts.

The ITF World Tennis Tour in Abuja comprises three M25+ tournaments, the Tombim Abuja Open, the Dayak Tennis Championships, and the GSL Open, which have been on since three weeks at the Tennis Complex of Abuja National Stadium. It began in 2015, with the Tombim Abuja Open, before the Dayak Championships joined a year later, and the GSL Open debuting in 2017.

“I want to thank and congratulate the sponsors of the Tombim, Dayak and GSL for their consistency,” Engineer Sani Ndanusa said.

“This is the 5th time this tournament is being held here in Abuja, and it has been growing from standard to standard.”

Players from all over the world come to Abuja annually to jostle for vital ranking points and a share of the $75,000 total prize pot. Over the years, there has been an increase in participating players from different parts of the world. Not only does this foster more competition, Ndanusa noted that it also projects Nigeria as a nation in good light.

“I’m glad the number of countries participating has also increased and the level of the acceptance of the tournament itself is global. It is one of the few tournaments that project Nigeria as a country, and as tourism destination.

“We have players from about 20 countries and they have been here for three weeks, nothing happens, very comfortable, happy, you can see everyone smiling. So, that value addition to the economy of this country is very high. I’m glad the sponsors have kept it up because it’s not easy.”

Ndanusa, who has held quite a number of high-profile positions nationally and internationally, including being a former President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) and former Vice President of the Confederation of African Tennis, reiterated his appreciation for the organisers and sponsors of the event, seeing how it has contributed in the growth of the country’s economy.

“I thank Tombim, Dayak and GSL for using tennis to grow the economy of Nigeria. This is beyond tennis. It is an economic development strategy to position Nigeria.”

The ITF World Tour will end its annual three-week stop in Abuja this week, with the GSL Open bringing the curtain down on what has been a spectacular show of tennis so far.

Meanwhile, Tom Jomby produced a rock-solid performance to beat Danylo Kalenichenko of Ukraine in straight sets yesterday and progressed to the semifinals of the GSL Open in Abuja.

The third-seeded Frenchman, who has  extended his winning streak to eight matches and racked up 16 consecutive set wins, took down Kalenichenko 6-4, 6-3 in 69 minutes.

Jomby and Kalenichenko began the match by exchanging breaks, with the latter breaking first and the Frenchman returning the favour immediately to keep things even. Jomby would break in the 10th game to clinch the set. Kalenichenko, bidding to exact revenge for his defeat in the Dayak final a week ago, could not find a way back into the match, as Jomby broke in the fourth game of the second set to go 3-1 up and then kept his nose in front for the remainder of the contest to clinch victory.

The 28-year-old Frenchman will next take on 18-year-old Simon Yitbarek of Sweden, who advanced after top seed, Sadio Doumbia, retired due to injury, while the Swede led 7-6(4), 3-1.

Both players went toe-to-toe in the first set to guide it into a tie-breaker, which Yitbarek sealed to take the set. In the second set, the Swed teenager started off strongly and raced into a 3-0 lead. Doumbia would hold serve in the fourth game for 1-3, before retiring shortly after, dashing any hopes there might have been of an all-French semi-final showdown.

Yitbarek is now into his first career semifinals on the ITF World Tennis Tour without completing a singles match. All three opponents he has faced en route to the semis have retired due to injury midway through their encounter.

Elsewhere, France’s Dan Added advanced to his third consecutive semifinals in Abuja, following a well-fought 7-5, 7-6(4) victory over Brazilian, Pedro Sorgi, keeping alive his hopes of securing a first title on ITF World Tennis Tour.

Both men had come into the match without the loss of a set, and they began strongly with each man holding his own until the 12th game, where Added carved out the all-important break to take the set. Things went with serve in the second set to ensure a tie-breaker. And it was Added who played the better tennis when it mattered though, to close out the match in an hour and 45 minutes and set up a semifinal clash with Niels Lootsma.

Lootsma, the seventh-seeded Dutchman, rallied from a set down to beat Gilbert Soares Junior of Brazil 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3, powering down 30 aces in the process to reach the last four.

The Dutchman had broken in the eight game of the first set for a 5-3 lead. However, nerves crept in as he was serving for the set, and Soares Junior broke back immediately and consolidated with a hold to level matters. The Brazilian would go on to clinch the set via a tiebreaker.

Lootsma bounced back in the second set, breaking in the very first game and again in the ninth game to clinch the set and force a decider. He would break in the fourth game of the deciding set to open up a 3-1 lead and then kept his foot on the gas to power to victory in 2 hours and 9 minutes and stay in track for a second title this year.

Lootsma, who stands at 6ft 4in, fired 30 aces in his 3-sets victory.

In the doubles event, the Indian pair of Arjun Kadhe and Sundar Prashanth needed just 40 minutes to beat the Ukrainian-Dutch pair of Danylo Kalenichenko and Niels Lootsma 6-3, 6-2 and advance to the final, where they will face the French-Greek duo of Dan Added and Michail Pervolarakis.

Added and Pervolarakis walked over the French pair of Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul, who were unable to compete given Doumbia’s injury.

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