Victor in the under-19 boys category of the Cargolux Merchant Express Squash Tournament which ended over the weekend, Michael John has revealed his astonishment at defeating current Nigeria junior #1, Adegoke Onaopemipo in the final.

Michael, 18, beat fellow Lagosian, ‘Onas’ – also 18 – 3-2 to emerge junior champion of the 14th edition of the multi-class tournament. The under-19 category of the event held for four days at the Squash Section of the Lagos Country Club, Ikeja.

“I was really surprised. I never knew I could defeat ‘Onas’ (Onaopemipo) at all. But I give God the Glory for the triumph.

“I feel very excited winning the Cargolux Merchant Express Squash tournament because I have never won it. So I’m very happy to defeat the U-19 number 1,” Michael tells Top Media Nigeria exclusively.

Youngsters, Abel Shedrack, Gabriel Olufunmilayo and Onaopemipo are three strong rivals of Michael. The champion describes the trio as “very good players”.

“Abel is the Nigeria men number 3. He is a very good player – strong, fit, determined and a little bit skillful. Although I have never defeated him, I know soon, I will be victorious against him. I like his pattern of playing anyway,” Michael notes.

Gabriel Olufunmilayo (in front) vs Ahmed Hassan of Zimbabwe earlier this year.

“Gabriel is very good. He is the fittest of them all – very skillful, active, fast, somehow cunning and very determined. Gabriel and I have only played once. That was during the league. But he defeated me 2-1 major score Also, I like his pattern of playing too.

“‘Onas’ is a very brutal, truly cunning, skillful, determined player. He makes sure he controls the game and he thinks a lot before playing any shoot in the game. ‘Onas’ is a very calm player but he is not as fit as the other two players. He is one of the players that do give me tough time and headache in the court. Whenever his name is being called to the court, I panick. I love his pattern and style of playing as well,” he admits.

For his future aspirations, Michael states:

“By the age of 19 – 21, I want to be the Nigeria men’s number 1. I’d like to experience what squash is all about outside the country, and as well make breakthrough and be in the top 3 in the world (PSA).”

Onaopemipo (middle) receiving his prize from Capt. Dayo Awobokun (left) as the tournament sponsor, Capt. Shina Akinfenwa looks on.

“I forfeited the match” – Onaopemipo

However, Onaopemipo, the runner-up in the age-grade category of the Cargolux Merchant Express Squash tournament claims he gifted Michael the contest.

“I forfeited the match. It was a tough match and also not my day on court. During the fifth match, my opponent had an injury, so I decided to gift him victory.”

The promising athlete just got enlisted on the PSA World Tour ranking. His target is humongous.

“My aim is to be in the top 100 before this time next year – if there will be enough fund for me to partake in tournaments.”

Kwara’s Faidat Soliu receives her prize at the Cargolux tourney

‘Self-belief, a determining factor in defeating National junior #1’

In the girl’s (u-19) category, Faidat Soliu bowed to the superior firepower of Kwaran compatriot, Rofiat Abdul Azeez. Rofiat, who seem to have become a nemesis for female young players in Nigeria came out top 3-1. Nonetheless, Faidat believes someday, she can be victorious against Rofiat competitively.

“I can beat her. It depend on how I believe in myself.”

She concludes:

“I really want to improve on my game and skills. I am trying my best.”

 

Report by: Ridwan Adeola Yusuf

 

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