Davien “Force Ripe” Taylor caused a stir last night when he defeated defending champion Julian “Michael Jackson” White in a hard-fought contest to advance to the final, when the second men’s semifinals of the Monarchs Of The Courts Road Tennis Tournament took place at the Big Rock Arena, Spring Garden Highway last night.
In the women’s equivalent, Kim Holder booked her place in the women’s final with an easy victory over young Abigail Haynes.
The encounter between White and Taylor was an exciting game between one of the island’s most experienced players and winner of several road tennis tournaments and a young rising star. It lasted five matches and entertained the modest crowd at the Arena.
White is a veteran and master craftsman on the road tennis court. Taylor is a brash and young player who has created a huge fan base within the last couple of years with his attacking style of play.
In the first game, White used all of his skills to defeat Taylor. He placed the ball with precision and was content to watch his young opponent who played several attacking shots make a number of unforced errors.
Even though several of Taylor’s attacking shots landed outside of the court or were banged into the net, each time he got everything right White appeared to be in all sorts of trouble. On one occasion in the first game, Taylor lured White to the left of the court and hammered the ball to his right causing several fans to leap to their feet in amazement at the skillful manner in which the shot was played.
White held the lead for most of the game playing with an extremely low crouch. He attacked when the opportunity came his way but most times the veteran player benefited from the errors made by Taylor rather than take the game to him.
At 16-14 White held a two-point advantage over Taylor and quickly raced away to 20-16, he ended the game with a smash to win it 21-6.
Taylor bounced back in the second game 23-21. White once more waited for the young player to commit unforced errors and led the set in the early stages. He held the advantage at 15-10 that did not stop Taylor playing attacking shots at every opportunity. This time he got it right, with a smash past White that locked the game at 16.
White gained three quick points to hold the advantage at 19-16, but Taylor with the fearless nature of youth continued in his attacking style and locked the game at 19 and smashed his way past White to win it 23-21.
White used all of his skills to defeat Taylor 21-15 in the third game. Taylor locked the game at 8 but White playing at his masterful best outfoxed him. At 13-12 when a mere point separated the players, it appeared that Taylor was forcing his way back into the game. Once more he made a number of unforced errors to give the victory to White.
Taylor won the fourth game 21-19 and the fifth 22-20 to book his place in the finals. In both of these sets, he was a bit more controlled with his shot selection and played his best tennis of the night. Both players knew they were in a do or die situation and tried they utmost to get the advantage in the games.
There were several rallies in both games and Taylor and White fought hard to gain the advantage over each other.
Taylor was advancing to victory in the fourth game at 18-12 when White dug deep and gained seven points. It then took two knockout smashes from Taylor to end the game. The fifth game even though it was keenly contested between Taylor and White ended after 11.30 p.m. while some fans were making their way out of the Arena as it ended in a 22-20 victory for Taylor.
Taylor will meet number one seed Mark “Venom” Griffith in the final on Sunday.
Holder never looked like losing in her 21-16, 21-14 victory over Haynes. Even though Haynes at times in both matches returned some of Holder’s powerful smashes and played a couple exquisite ones of her own.
The powerful Holder will meet her archrival Sheldene Walrond in the ladies final on Sunday night.