By Kimberley Cummins
Come rain or clear skies the fight is set to determine who will reign supreme as the world’s best road tennis male and female players.
Ahead of tomorrow’s semifinal matchups of the Barbados Road Tennis Open championship, players were today at the Wildey Gymnasium getting in their final conditioning and acclimating to the new concrete board surface installed as a backup in case of inclement weather.
The semifinal fixtures will see top-seeded female player Sheldene Waldron versus Maudlyn Blunt, and Kim Holder against Rachel Smith. While in the men’s category the iconic Julian ‘Michael Jackson’ White will battle Mark ‘Venom’ Griffith and Shakeem Nurse will take on Dario “Ric Flair” Hinds.
While Nurse on paper may be the favourite, Hinds wasn’t at all intimidated as he threw the gauntlet down to his competition. Stressing that he was in the best condition of his life having trained the hardest ever for the competition, Hinds warned of his might. And he went as far as to predict that during his face-off, Nurse will only manage to win one set against him.
“I expect a very tough game. You know Shakeem Nurse is a very tough opponent but I’m looking to win in four games, he is good enough to win one game but I put in a lot of work for this tournament so I am looking to go all the way this time. . . .You have a big task on your hands, so come prepared to fight real hard,” Hinds boldly stated.
The tournament is being hosted by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment in collaboration with the National Sports Council (NSC) and the Barbados Road Tennis Association.
Speaking about the new surface that was laid for the competition, NSC administrator Adrian Donovan said that thus far they are receiving good reviews from players.
The surface was created using 70 sheets of concrete slabs which were placed on top of strips of plywood. Donovan explained it was then put together with a combination of sticking process, sanding and priming done to get the finishing touches. It took five days of work to lay the surface. An orange PR21 ball will be used in this Saturday’s final.
“We are quite satisfied with its appearance and how it is playing. So far, the reports from the players who have been here for the past two or three days have suggested they are very impressed with what they are seeing and with what they have to work with. The board
is very hard and fast. No cracks or holes but a very smooth surface where the ball can give you a good bounce and it is fast so players can play through the shots. There is no sticking whatsoever and we are looking forward this Saturday to a big final [when] somebody will walk away with the $20,000 first prize, both in the female and male categories,” Donovan said.
The sum of $15, 000 will be handed out to the runners-up, $10, 000 for the third place and $5, 000 for the fourth position.