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By; MUSA KUTAMA, Calabar.

A four-day tennis championship sponsored by the Cross River Sports Commission in conjunction with the State Government to honour Etubom Charles Ekpo Duke, an 88-year-old foremost Nigerian tennis star and legend in the sport, has been flagged off at the Calabar Sports Club.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Orok Duke, Chairman of the Sports Commission, said the commission as well as Gov. Ben Ayade’s administration would always remember the state’s legend in sports especially when they are still alive.

He also reiterated his commission commitment to support sport activities just as he appealed to individuals and organisations to sponsor sports for the development and employment of teeming youths.

He also assured that facilities in U.J. Esuene stadium would be availed those wishing to sponsor and promote sports.

According to the commission’s chairman, cash prizes would be awarded to those who excelled as well as sundry prizes to participants in the primary and secondary schools’ categories in the Charles Ekpo Duke tennis tournament.

In his address Dr. Jude Amadi, the State Director of Sports, who described tennis as one of the best sports in the world, said the tournament was mooted to catch them young.

He assured that the tournament would discover young talents to represent the state and the nation in tennis.

He also charged the athletes to ensure they made the cut so as to be chosen to represent Team Cross River in upcoming sporting activities in the state.

Earlier in a goodwill message Etubom Charles Ekpo Duke, said he appreciated the gesture done to him by the state sports commission and Calabar Sports Club by organising the tournament in his honour.

He charged stakeholders and other well-meaning Nigerians to encourage tennis and sports for Cross Riverians to excel.

The octogenarian also promised to do his possible best to encourage tennis.

In his remarks, Eteidung (Dr) Umo E. Umo-Otong, former President Calabar Sports Club, said he is pleased with the state government’s attitude of grooming primary and secondary schools students  in order to nurture fresh tennis players at the grass roots level.

He said that pupils and the students should continually participate in sporting activities that would no doubt reduce redundancy and idleness.

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