Jackson true king of the courtJulian “Michael Jackson” White is a student of road tennis, who analyzes his opponents’ strengths and weaknesses. (Picture by Kenmore Bynoe.)
By Randy Bennett | Wed, November 07, 2012 - 12:03 AM
Barbados’ current crop of road tennis players will struggle to displace Julian “Michael Jackson” White as No. 1.
The reason? They are not thinking enough.
That is the view of president of the Belfield Road Tennis Club, Mervyn Lythcott, who said White would continue to rule for years to come.
“Jackson has too many of the right things in place,” Lythcott, who has been involved in road tennis for over 50 years, told MIDWEEK SPORT in a recent interview.
“When Jackson gets on the court against any opponent, he analyzes their weaknesses and their strengths. He can pick up whether you favour your backhand or your forehand, whether your footwork is poor or if you are fit enough to constantly rally long points, because he puts a lot of thought into his game.
“None of the players right now know what they have to do to beat Jackson, but he knows how to beat all of them.”
A former national champion, Lythcott knows what it is to play at the highest level, having played with the likes of Keith “Grell” Griffith, Deighton “Pa” Roach, Anthony “Limp” Richardson, Ricky “Laker” Williams and Philip “Foff” Garner in the 1970s and 1980s.
Back then, road tennis was much more competitive, he said.
“The road tennis players back then put in way more thought than the players do now. The present players don’t put enough thought into what they need to do to overcome obstacles, and how to work out Jackson’s weaknesses.
“You need to be able to think when you are in the heat of the game, and when you are out there on your feet. You need to be able to implement new strategies if your game plan isn’t working out the way you had it planned,” Lythcott pointed out.
Lythcott said having played tennis competitively for over three decades, he had seen the game change drastically from the 1970s and 1980s.
“The standard of tennis and the way in which it used to be played has really changed. In the 70s, points were decided fast because there used to be a lot of attacking players. Nowadays, the tennis has a more defensive-minded approach where you will regularly see players rally between 20 or 30 balls before a point is won,” he noted.
“Back then, if you played a man like Keith [Griffith], after three or four rallies, you could be guaranteed that he would find a way to get that ball past you,” added Lythcott, who also represented Barbados in football.
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