By Joy Anigbogu
Tennis players in the South-East and South-South regions recently witnessed a boost regarding the sport following the staging of the East of the Niger Inter-club Tennis Tournament (ENIC) held in Enugu.
This year’s tournament which was held at the Enugu Sports Club across three days started with the semi finals played by four clubs namely Aba Sports Club which played against Standard Tennis Development Club (STDC) Owerri with Aba emerging the winner. Onitsha Sports Club took on Orlu Recreation Club and victory went to Onitsha Sports Club.
In the final between Onitsha Sports Club and Aba Sports Club, the latter who were defending champion defeated Onitsha Sports Club by 3 – 2 to join the league of back to back winners. The first was STDC Owerri which won the cup back to back in 2008.
The event was chaired by the former minister of labour, chief Emeka Nworgu who expressed delight at the turn out and level of participation. “I am impressed with what is going on. I want to say congratulations to Aba Sports Club. I know that they have been winning but today’s winning is historical because it took place in the political capital of the formrt Eastern Region. Enugu has been the centre of sports and Aba has been promoters of sports. Many good things have come from Aba. Aba will continue to be great”
The Chairman of ENIC, Chief Kingsley Uduh talked about the major improvement his administration has made to raise the standard of the tournament. “If you look at the tournament you will discover that there is something different. We use to spend just one day to determine who emerges champion but today we have a free affair. We have more media representation and it is also a club friendly event”
The founder of ENIC, Chief Austin Agbaje while delivering his speech said: “ENIC is about promoting excellence and friendship through the sport of tennis, trying to build tennis excellence east of the Niger and trying to bring all our people East of the Niger together in pursuit of excellence in sports. I lived in Aba for 24 years and I did not see Aba as a town where I was just passing through. I saw it as a home and because I am a tennis enthusiast, it occurred to me that all the tennis tournaments in Nigeria were outside the South East. I thought we should gather and bring something to the South East. We should lay foundation for something that will eventually run into an ATP tournament. I taught we should create an institution, something that will outlive the founders.”
The sponsors of ENIC represented by the CEO of Cutix Plc, Mr. Ifeanyi Uzodike noted that sponsorship drives the wheel of sports development in Nigeria. “Today we all watch the premier league etcetera; it is not the governments of those countries that are promoting sports; that is why sports are successful over there. It is our responsibility to do our own bit. We would like other corporate organizations to come in so that we can join hands to uplift sporting events in Nigeria. Cutix Plc, has been sponsoring this league tournament for over 15 years and when I leave this position eventually, I am optimistic that Cutix Plc will continue with the good work because that is part of our social responsibility”
Another ENIC sponsor, Tetralog represented by the Head of Sales, Mr. Gabriel Ndu noted that they joined in the sponsorship even in recession because; “Tetralog is an authorized dealer of Mercedes in Nigeria. We were approached by ENIC for sponsorship and we agreed not minding the recession.”
Chairman of the Local Organising Committee and first Secretary General of ENIC, Emeka Azie admitted that the event is growing in leaps and bounds. “If you consider where the tournament is today compared with what it was in 1999 when we started, you will see that there has been much improvement in the level competitiveness. It has grown beyond every expectation.
We hope that by next year we will have more media representation, clamouring to know what we do in ENIC”
ENIC is a tennis league tournament that was founded in 1999. It has about 23 registered clubs and it has been sponsored all these years by Cutix Plc, a cable manufacturing giant with factory in Nnewi. ENIC is the longest running privately sponsored tennis tournament in Nigeria.