Rachel Smith is into the semi-finals of the Touch of Class Women’s Road Tennis Championship.
Fresh from being crowned queen of the inaugural St James Tournament over the weekend, Smith defeated veteran Sandra Bailey in the final A Class quarter-final of the competition at the Deighton “Pa” Roach Tennis Facility, Bush Hall, St Michael last night.
Playing in the night-cap game, Smith beat Bailey 21-18, 21-17 to advance into the semi-finals. Smith, a talented player, has for several years been regarded as the heir apparent to the formidable Kim Holder who has ruled road tennis on the island for over a decade.
However, in the past 18 months, Sheldene Walrond has become Holder’s most difficult opponent, with Smith just a shade below these two top female players. It is her penchant for committing unforced errors at vital stages in matches that has prevented her not being in winners’ row as often as Holder and Walrond.
The match against Bailey last night was no exception. The slimly build Smith took an early lead in the first set, and service changed at 3-2 in her favour. Bailey locked it t 4-4 and Smith held the advantage at 11-9. Smith peppered Bailey with several attacking shots forcing her to defend but several of the shots also landed outside of the court.
There were several long and exciting rallies during the game that created excitement among the spectators. Bailey was forced to use her vast experience to counter the attacking style of Smith who held a two-point advantage at 16-14.
Smith took control of the game at 20-16 and even though she gifted two points to Bailey at 17 and 18, she won the game 21-18.
The second match followed a similar pattern to the first. Smith held the advantage at 3-2, Bailey locked it at 5-5, after that Smith sailed into the lead and held it throughout the game. At 18-12 she seemed set for victory but once more several unforced errors allowed Bailey to gain a number of vital points. Eventually, Smith won the match 21-17.
In the B Class semifinal, Maudlyn Blunt had an easy victory over Samantha Rogers. The ever-improving Blunt won the first game 21-17 and sowed her opponent 21-7 in the second set.
Susan Scantlebury and Margo Lorde played an entertaining match in the veteran’s semifinals. Scantlebury inflicted a 21-6 sow on Lorde in the first game. Lorde rebounded to win the second game 21-19 and Scantlebury won the third game 21-19.
The highlight of this match was the way Scantlebury played the ball around the court in a precise manner. She placed the ball in the right corner of the court repeatedly. After Lorde settled in that area, Scantlebury moved her to the centre of the court and finally to the left of the court to the delight of the fans.
In the first doubles quarterfinal, the mother and daughter pair of Kim and Kyana Holder defeated Asabi Downey and Susan Scantlebury 21-16. Abigail Haynes and Cherene Ward won the second quarterfinal 21-10 over Grace Gill and Michelle Griffith.
Evalda Birkett beat Shari Hope 18-21, 21-13, 21-19 in the novice semifinal.