First-time finalists St Stephen’s Primary dethroned two-time champions St Cyprian’s Boys’ 2-1 to lift the 2017 Cave Shepherd/Berger Paints/A One Supermarkets National Primary Schools’ Road Tennis Championship title.
Not only did zone five winners St Stephen’s add the Lance Bynoe team trophy, named after the father of road tennis in Barbados to their heavily-laden cabinet, but they also had more reasons to celebrate when Azarie Clarke won the boys’ individual final 21-14 and 21-17 against Ahijah Blunt of St Martin’s Mangrove Primary today at the Rubis court on Spring Garden Highway.
It was sheer brilliance in the two best of three individual final from the diminutive class three student Clarke, with his biggest supporters being his parents Abbie and Juanita Clarke, as they cheered every point and watched their son bask in glory after earning bragging rights as the king of primary schools road tennis. As the saying goes like father like son, as Clarke’s father Abbie also competes in the A Class of theBarbados Professional Road Tennis Competition.
Clarke and Blunt were familiar with each other’s style of play having competed in the recently concluded BPRT tournament. On a day where there were some rain interruptions, Clarke looked business-like as he mixed up his plays but noticeably had a preference for the right-handed forehand strokes which Blunt oftentimes had no response to. Blunt also had his moments when he slammed anything too short but Clarke was a long way the better player on the day.
Speaking with Barbados TODAY after the final, physical education teacher at St Stephen’s Aisha Norville credited the National Sports Council road tennis programme which she explained was very instrumental to her team and their success while making special mention of Clarke, their star player.
“We knew we had a good squad and we put our faith in the boys to do well against defending champions St Cyprian’s, very strong contender in this year’s competition. We weren’t nervous because we encouraged the boys to play tennis, we told them to enjoy themselves, and no matter the outcome, the school will be proud,” she said.
Clarke gave St Stephen’s an early 1-0 advantage in the teams final over Alex Stewart of St Cyprian’s 21-12 and Mikhail Grant-Bennett made it 2-0 when he trounced Nathan Mascoll 21-16 to avoid a decisive game three and seal the trophy (made out of limestone) for his school in the two best-of-three showdown. Even though St Stephen’s had already won, the organizers opted to play the third game and Jireh Malcolm managed to register the win for St Cyprian’s 21-13 but it was all too late.
The third position went to the team from St Alban’s, defeating Westbury Primary 2-1 thanks to Mekaili Worrell (21-14) playing Jayden Mayers and Nahjae Haynes (22-20) against Akeem McCollin. Aaron Weatherhead was the only victorious player from Westbury 22-20 when he took on Nathan Griffith.
Seven-year-old student of St Martin’s Mangrove Primary, Kezia Blunt, the sister of Ahijah, also made it to the girls’ finals and lost 26-24, 12-21 and 21-13 to Eboni Atherley, a junior national badminton player and a student of George Lamming Primary.
In the third-place matchup, Clarke’s twin sister, Abilla lost 18-21, 21-18 and 21-18 to a better opponent in Solange Holford of West Terrace Primary. Meanwhile, in the boys’ third-place game, Nathan King of Blackman and Gollop Primary, also a junior national badminton player, won 21-12 and 21-15 against Kenan Ollivierre of George Lamming Primary.
The zonal winners and runners-up for 2017 are Westbury and Luther Thorne Primary hailing from zone one, George Lamming and St Mary’s Primary dominated zone two, St Cyprian’s and St Giles’ were the top two teams of zone three. West Terrace and Eagle Hall commanded zone four, Reynold Weekes were runners-up to St Stephen’s in zone five, Blackman and Gollop along with Half Moon Fort Primary clinched zone six, Sharon Primary and runners-up St George Primary ruled zone seven and St Alban’s and Grazettes took zone eight.
The William Grazette Award went to Grazettes Primary for being the most organized team.