By Morissa Lindsay
The style, flare and panache continued last night as the quarterfinal games for the 2022 Barbados Road Tennis Open competition were contested in the presence of a massive crowd in Silver Hill in Christ Church. There is no greater feeling than playing at the mecca of road tennis in Barbados and the community of Silver Hill turned out in their numbers to witness the action.
Top seeds in both the men’s and women’s divisions, Mark ‘Venom’ Griffith and Sheldene Waldron were among those that advanced to the semifinals scheduled for Tuesday, August 9 at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.
Sponsored by Kure Oxygen, Griffith brought that attacking side of his game yesterday to defeat the dangerous Darius ‘Baracus’ Gaskin 21-9 and 21-13 while Waldron made light work of national basketball player Maria ‘Flowers’ Cumberbatch 21-7 and 21-10.
Given the prize earnings are BDS$20,000 for the overall winners in both men’s and women’s categories, a sum of $15, 000 for the runners-up, a handsome $10, 000 for third and fourth position of $5, 000, most of the players that competed in the quarterfinal were extremely focused and did not leave room for errors.
Put on by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment in collaboration with the National Sports Council and the Barbados Road Tennis Association, the quarterfinals were just a snippet of the intense action to come in the semifinal as the iconic Julian ‘Michael Jackson’ White and Kim Holder have also gone through to the next round.
Interestingly, both White and Holder lost their respective opening sets but rallied with determination to come from behind and destroy their opponents in the two best of three sets showdown.
Holder trailed 21-19 in the first stanza to Angela Burrowes but shook off the nerves to trounce her rival 21-12 and 21-10 in the next two sets.
Meanwhile, White came up against the attacking Kerry ‘TC’ Francis and won 12-21, 21-17 and 21-12 in what was an entertaining battle between the two. Francis’ game normally involves lots of power, he won the toss and elected to serve and led 5-0 before White finally responded but it did not matter because the former had already built good momentum.
During this tournament White has developed a knack for starting his games slowly but then gets into it by the second set which is exactly what happened against Francis. White strategically slowed down the pace of the game, showed wonderful ball movement and picked up points one by one as he battled to stay alive in the encounter. It was an effective method by White who took Francis out of his comfort zone and fed him mostly those steady, flowing return strokes as opposed to an aggressive style of play. White held the upper hand as they switched sides of the court in the third set 10-5 and it was sayonara to Francis who was done and dusted.
In the nightcap match, the likely future heir to the road tennis throne, Shakeem Nurse, did not hold back as he stood and delivered those mighty killer forehand shots against Adrian Scott who has played very well throughout the tournament and must be commended. However, it was Nurse as expected who delivered on the night 21-15 and 21-16 and showed his class. In the men’s semifinals Nurse will play the flamboyant Dario ‘Rick Flair’ Hinds who won his quarterfinal match 21-10 and 21-13 over Dwayne ‘Lynche’ Lynch. While the veterans Griffith and White will do battle.
The women’s semifinal will feature Maudlyn Blunt against Waldron in what should be an epic clash as Blunt defeated Jalesa Holder-Vaughn 21-10 and 21-6 to cement her place. Likewise, Rachel Smith dominated 21-13 and 21-18 against Estherphyne Holder and that earned her a date with Kim Holder in the semis.
The semifinals and final will be played at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex on Tuesday, August 9 and Saturday, August 13 respectively. [email protected]