The tournament opener witnessed the participation of the youngest players of the competition; Mustapha Mustapha (10) and Musa Mustapha (9) compete in the group stage of the U21 Men’s singles.
The tournament which began with the group stages of the U21 Men and Women singles saw the Abuja-born brothers both paired with relatively older opponents in Augustine Emmanuel and Falana Tobi in their first set of matches respectively. However, a 0-3 loss for both of them would only serve as great exposure for them going into future.
While the top guns were yet to feature in the competition owing to their rankings and seedings, the competition wasn’t short of excitement and top performances from the local and foreign stars from 26 countries.
Nigeria’s Solanke Azeez (17) eased past his U21 counterpart from Nigeria, Ajayi Temidayo 3-0 (11-1, 11-8, 11-4). Omeh Amadi also made light work of Animashaun Abayomi 3-0 (11-7, 11-6, 11-7) as well as defeating one of the U21’s favourite Dani Mudit 3-2 (11-6, 7-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5). Foreign U21 stars like Wang Shaobo (China) got easy wins in their group stage matches.
The Women’s U21 singles saw top performances from the Chinese athletes; Sun Chen and Sun Fejie while Nigeria’s Jimoh Rofiat had a walk-over.
Most of the Nigerian U-21 male athletes also competed in the Men’s singles and gave good account of themselves although, the match of the day was between China’s Wang Xiyang and Nigeria’s Jegede Olarenwaju which ended 4-2 (11-5, 13-11, 6-11, 9-11, 14-12, 11-3) in favour of the Chinese, however, it was a pulsating match which had the fans on the edges for most parts.
The Women’s singles saw the Chinese breeze through their group stages but the encounter of the day was between Esther Oribamise who got a bronze medal at the just concluded African Youth Games in Algiers and Rashidat Ogundele. Esther Oribamise lost narrowly 4-3 (7-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-8, 11-6, 7-11, 13-15) with the last game going into a deuce.
Day 2 would see a continuation of the U21 Men and Women’s group stage matches, Men and Women’s singles as well as the preliminary rounds of the Men and Women’s doubles.