Mark “Venom” Griffith and Kim Holder are into the final of the Monarchs Of The Courts Road Tennis Tournament.
They booked their places in the final when the first semifinals of Barbados’ most lucrative road tennis competition took place at the Big Rock Arena, Spring Garden last night.
Playing in the nightcap game, Griffith, the number one men’s seed, dismissed Marson “Bush Hall’s Finest” Johnson in three straight matches out of a possible five games. Holder, meanwhile, overpowered Abigail Haynes in two matches to reach her first final for the year.
In the quarterfinals, played last Saturday night, Johnson defeated number four seed Darius “Baracus” Gaskin to earn a place in the semi-finals. Last night there was a school of thought among his supporters that Johnson would perform another giant-killing act.
“A big fish will get catch tonight,” suggested one of Johnson’s female supporters before the match began.
From the first serve of the opening game Griffith ensured her wish did not come true and indeed it turned out to be strictly wishful thinking.
He led Johnson 4-1 at the first service change and was leading 7-3 when service changed for the second time.
Griffith knew that Johnson has a strong back-arm and is an attacking player. He nullified his opponent’s effectiveness by playing the ball around the court.
This strategy forced Johnson to change his game which worked in Griffith’s favour. He brought Johnson to the nets with several deft shots, then forced him back with a flurry of attacking strokes. This led to several long rallies throughout the game.
Griffith led Johnson at all stages in the game. At 10-5 it appeared a sow might be served up for Johnson but that was not to be.
Johnson dug deep and won four points to narrow the gap between him and Griffith; when the service changed at 11-9 the game was evenly balanced.
Griffith then moved into second gear, he won five successive points to lead the game at 15-10. Johnson fought back and won three points but Griffith was still leading when service changed for the final time at 17-13. He won four more points to wrap up the game at 21-14.
Griffith took charge of the second game from the start and rushed to a four-point lead over Johnson.
At 11-4 for the second time, it seemed a sow was on the cards for Johnson. But once more he fought back gallantly and won five consecutive points and escaped being sowed. But Griffith who seemed to be treating this game as a practice session wrapped up the game 21-15.
In the third game, Johnson led at 6-4, Griffith locked it at 7 and eased ahead by one point at 8-7, he eventually won it 21-12.
Twice this year Kim Holder lost to Sheldene Walrond in the semifinals of two major competitions.
Last night, Holder had to get past the stylish Abigail Haynes to book her passage in the final of the most prestigious road tennis tournament on the island.
Holder is one of the more powerful hitters of the ball on the road tennis circuit.
She often leaves her opponents helpless with her trademark smash. Haynes won the first five points of the game.
At one stage it seemed the elegant player was heading into winner’s row, but that was just an illusion.
A powerful smash from Haynes locked the game at 9. She held a one-point lead at 13-12, occasionally Haynes matched Holder shot for shot and even elegantly returned some of her big smashes.
But Holder, who is a formidable figure in female road tennis, was too much for Haynes and won the game 21-14. She then dismissed Haynes 21-13 in the second game.
Earlier, in the first semifinals of the mixed doubles, Carlyn “The Model” Haynes (Abigail’s mother ) and Corey Mayers defeated table tennis players Abbie Clarke and Julia Morris Young 21-19, 21-17.
In the girls open, young Abilla Clarke, the daughter of Abbie, defeated Advianna Johnson-Leacock 21-17, 21-16.
The other semifinal matches were scheduled for tonight.