Number two seed Julian “Michael Jackson” White, aka World Boss, withstood an early onslaught from Davien “Force Ripe” Taylor to book his passage into the final of the Barbados Public Workers’ Credit Union’s Monarchs Of The Court Tournament when the second men’s semi-finals took place at the Big Rock Arena, Spring Garden Highway last night.
White, a perennial finalist in road tennis competitions around the island, was forced to use all of his skills as his 29-year-old opponent ignited the court with a number of scorching shots in the opening game.
Taylor earned his place in the semifinals with an upset victory over number three seed Curtis Jones in the quarterfinals. In the opening game of semifinals, the young player from Marl Hole, St Michael seemed set to perform another giant-killing act.
The game began at a rapid rate with Taylor giving notice of his intention to attack with a couple of smashes, including one which created a buzz in the crowd as it raced down the centre of the court. Despite the attacking display by Taylor, the veteran held the lead when service changed at 3-2.
White saw he had a fight on his hands and began to stroke the ball with less power in an attempt to curb Taylor’s attacking style. The game was locked at 5, 6 and 7 as the lead seesawed between the two players.
This continued throughout the game as Taylor and White tried to get the upper hand. Taylor was always on the attack, while White kept playing the ball around, occasionally he unleashed an attacking shot.
The game was locked at 9, at 11-9 White held the lead, he kept it at 12-13, until the game was locked at 13 and 15. Taylor took over at 16. At this stage, the game had become an intriguing battle between two combatants who were asking and giving no quarter.
After the game was locked at 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 Taylor took the lead at 23 and played a firm shot down the centre of the court to win to take it at 24-22. The game whetted the appetite of the spectators. Several of them suggested the veteran player was about to fall at the hands of the young Turk.
Taylor stamped his authority on the second game from start. He held an early lead at 3-2. He then proceeded to win five successive points, leaving White stalled on two. White took his time and clawed his way back into the game.
He won four points to Taylor’s one to reduce the danger of being sowed when service changed at 9-6. White won another four points while Taylor mustered one to lock the game at 10.
They were several long and exciting rallies during this stage of the game. One rally ended with a smash from Taylor which was followed by a flourish. Another one produced an exquisite back-arm shot from White.
Taylor was still in charge at 13-12 and held the lead at 16-14, White locked the game at 17 and slipped into the lead a point later. He won the next four points to take the game 21-17, and level the score 1-1.
Taylor continued with his attacking style in the other two games, but by then White was into his groove and took the third game 21-14 and the fourth 21-17 to win the three best of five match-up 3-1. He will meet number one seed Mark “Venom” White in the final.
In the second women semifinals, second seed Sheldene Walrond defeated number three seed Rachael Smith 21-12, 22-24, 21-18 to book a date with the number one ranked ladies player Kim Holder in the final.
Walrond, who won two major tournaments this year, easily won the first game 21-12. In the early stages of the first game, Smith tried to attack Walrond’s back-arm which some fans say is the weakest part of her game.
Walrond countered with a number of crisp attacking shots to lock the game at 5. Smith held the advantage at 6-5. Walrond then took the lead at 7 and it was locked at the same score before Walrond eased ahead at 8-7.
She began to pick up points rapidly and Smith was facing a sow with the score on 13-7 and 17-8. But a number of blunders from Walrond allowed her to escape that embarrassment.
For the second time in the competition, Walrond was forced to play a decider after losing the second game of a match.
Earlier in the tournament Smith had to play a third game in her encounter with Maudlyn Blunte. Last night Smith fought back and won the second game 24-22. The number three seed led 3-2 at the change of the first service.
Both players played several attacking shots in this game that was locked at 10. Walrond tried to break away from Smith but the shaven-headed player kept on her heels. The match was locked at 19 and 20. Then, Smith serving to win the match at 20-19 sent the ball into the nets. Finally, at 23-22 Walrond struck the ball into the nets and a clearly relieved Smith won the game 24-22. Walrond then won the third game 21-18. On Sunday night she will be contesting her third final for the year.
In the mixed doubles semifinals, after losing the first game Alexander Clarke and Sandra Bailey defeated Gregory Gill and Maudlyn Blunte 16-21, 21-16, 21-17 to set up a meeting with Carlyn “The Model “ Haynes and Corey Mayers in the final. In the Junior Girls’ Open Solange Holford won a closely contested match against Keiza Blunte 21-18, 21-19. She will play against Abilla Clarke in the final.