Pride for parish and self will be on the line this weekend when the National Sports Council Inter-Parish Road Tennis Championships climaxes at the Springer Memorial School.
Featuring 18 of the island’s best players, stretched across six categories, the Government Hill school will be transformed into a battleground as players battle for cash prizes in excess of $40,000 –– the highest ever payday in the competition’s five year history.
The action, which will be televised live on CBC Channel 8, gets underway tomorrow night at 7:35 p.m., with the 15 and Under, ladies and veterans titles’ up for grabs.
Those matches will be followed by the grand finale on Saturday night, with the highly anticipated 21 and Under, “B” class and “A” class finals.
During the draw which took place on Tuesday evening at the NSC’s, My Lords Hill headquarters, some mouthwatering matchups were revealed.
Christ Church’s Ezekial Ward will start as the favourite to defend his 15 and Under title against St Michael’s Justin Smith and take home the top prize of $500.
The left-handed Ward, a student at Deighton Griffith, has matured since tasting victory last year, and will no doubt be looking to make it two wins out of two.
However, he will have to be wary of Lester Vaughan’s 14-year-old Smith, who showed in the Clash Of The Titans junior competition that he has the potential to become a serious threat.
Defending ladies’ champion Kim Holder of St George, will once again renew her rivalry with the young and determined Rachel Smith of Christ Church, as they battle for the $6000 first prized cheque.
The two attackers will square off in a rematch of the Clash Of The Titans ladies final, which saw an injured Holder battle back from the depths of despair to edge her younger opponent.
After defeating Suzanne Scantlebury in the semifinals, Smith sent a warning to Holder, telling her that she was out for revenge, and would not be settling for the runner-up prize of $3,000.
Tonight’s featured match will see 2013 veterans’ champions, St Michael come up against defending champions St Thomas.
St Thomas’ Ricky “Body Doc” Hoyte will have a huge task on his hand against Jeffrey “Bing Crosby” Layne, who has yet to be defeated in this competition.
Both players are known for their entertaining and comical antics, and will no doubt be crowd pleasers.
The winning parish, though, will most likely be decided when Hoyte’s parter, Anderson “Chef Andy” Smith takes on Andrew “Cripple” Holder.
Smith is a more than capable defender who will have to be at his best against an aggressive Holder, whose wide array of shots can pose a problem.
The winning team will walk away with $5,000, while the loser will take home $3,000.
Two former champions in Dario Hinds of St James and St George’s Emar Edwards will contest Saturday’s 21 and Under finals.
Hinds, the 2012 champ, will take solace in the fact that the last time he met Edwards – the 2011 winner – three years ago in Dover, he came out victorious.
But Edwards will be looking to go one step further after snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against Darius “Barracus” Gaskin in last year’s final and claim the $4,000 first prize which is up for grabs.
Both players have improved tremendously over the course of the year, and some high-class tennis is definitely in store for spectators.
The runner-up will win $2,000.
Christ Church’s duo of Victor “Earth” Ward and Randy “Cat” Yearwood, will be going after their first ever ‘B’ class title and $6,000 when they meet St George’s team of Ivor Lashley and Bruce Pounder.
Ward will be an overwhelming favourite to defeat Pounder, having shown that he can compete with some of the “A” class players.
It won’t be a walkover by any means though, as Pounder has shown that similarly to Ward, he has the ability to engage in long rallies.
Lashley will be happy to have drawn the relatively inexperienced Yearwood, and will be hoping to take full advantage.
Known for his attacking style of play, Lashley, a former national volleyballer, will need to defeat his opponent convincingly if St George is to avoid taking home the second place prize of $3,000.
The big boys will then bring the curtain down, with perennial champions “A” class champions St Michael once again coming up against arch-rivals, Christ Church.
Barring a stunning upset, St Michael should easily romp to their fifth consecutive title and leave $10,500 richer.
Just like last year, Christ Church’s Marson Johnson once again has the unenviable task of taking on the island’s number one player, Mark “Venom” Griffith.
The fact that Johnson failed to even win a set the last time around makes him an obvious underdog, with many expecting the same result this time around.
St Michael’s Antoine “Lil Man” Daniel will also be expected to use his wide shot selection to dispose of Anthony “Ears” Mitchell.
Daniel has garnered a large following since his return to the sport, due to his exciting style of play.
And while Mitchell is one of the island’s top five players, it would probably take a miracle for him to upend Daniel, and avoid Christ Church taking the runner-up spot for the fifth consecutive year and $5,000.