Mark “Venom” Griffith is the toughest titan of road tennis in Barbados.
On Saturday night, the Belfield-based player grabbed the title and $3000 in cash as he outlasted giant-killer Curtis Jones in five intriguing sets in the final of the inaugural United Insurance Clash of the Titans tournament at the Wildey Gymnasium.
Griffith, the number three seed, turned back the challenge of his opponent with a smart game and superior defensive skills which exposed the fitness challenges of Jones.
Griffith won 21-18, 21-14, 19-21, 26-28, 21-10 before a large and appreciative crowd who regularly applauded the players during an exciting match.
Jones, also from the Belfield camp, had earlier booked his place in the play-off when he pulled off a shocking upset over top seed Julian “Michael Jackson” White on Friday night in the semi-finals.
He ousted White in straight sets, 21-17, 21-17, in a rain-hit encounter and spectators were anticipating a thriller in the play-off against the consistent Griffith.
However, to the surprise of most, Jones surrendered the first two sets as Griffith took early control of the match. However, he clawed back in the third as, after trading points all the way, Griffith committed two critical errors and sent the match into a fourth set.
Jones again trailed in the crucial fourth set but made up ground in the late stages as Griffith found it difficult to close the match. Griffith held four match points but Jones, visibly short of breath during critical points, fought gallantly and pulled off the fourth set (26-28) and forced the match into a decisive fifth set.
It was then that the brave challenger was unable to trouble the champion and Griffith easily closed out the set and the match as Jones, who secured $1000 for his efforts, showed signs of exhaustion and other fitness challenges.
Champion Griffith, who had defeated number two seed Anthony “Ears” Mitchell (21-14, 21-13) to reach the final, later praised Jones for a brave fight despite his conditioning.
The victory was the second major one of the year for the 27-year-old Griffith after his win in the popular Silver Hill tournament.