White shows might againSTILL THE CHAMPION: Julian “Michael Jackson” White celebrating his 33rd road tennis title. ((Pictures by Kenmore Bynoe.))
By RANDY BENNETT | Mon, October 15, 2012 - 12:05 AM
JULIAN “MICHAEL JACKSON” WHITE moonwalked his way to his 33rd road tennis title just after midnight.
The undisputed No. 1 road tennis player in Barbados turned back a spirited challenge from arch-rival and No. 2 seed Anthony “Ears” Mitchell to win 19-21, 21-13, 21-18, 21-16 in the “A” final of the inaugural Belfield Road Tennis Club/SJ Health And Bakery Limited Road Tennis Competition.
In a marathon match lasting two hours and 45 minutes that ran into the early hours of yesterday morning, White battled back after losing the first game in controversial style to lift the title before a large crowd at the Belfield courts.
The combatants wowed fans with fantastic shots on both sides of the court and spectacular rallies that regularly exceeded 30 balls and drew countless “oooohs” and “aaaahs” from spectators.
“It feels great to have won,” an elated and fatigued White told NATIONSPORT shortly after Mitchell pounded his forearm shot into the net to confirm the result.
“I’m not really accustomed to winning the first game, so after losing the opening game I buckled down and concentrated hard so that I could get myself back into the game.”
Despite committing 19 unforced errors in that first game and trailing 9-14 at one stage, White somehow managed to battle back and pulled within one point (19-20) of a stuttering Mitchell.
But a powerful forehand shot from White was called out by referee Sylvan “Llama” Barnett and when White questioned the call, second referee Edward “Dabo” Carrington overruled Barnett’s call, saying that the ball was in.
However, instead of replaying the point as is accustomed, an infuriated Mitchell switched sides, insisting that the point was his.
After a five-minute delay resulting from a meeting with players and match officials, the game was awarded to Mitchell.
The decision prompted Carrington to step down from his officiating duties but it seemed to prompt White to step up his game. Some encouraging words of advice from his son Romario also led to a change in his game tactics.
“After that first game, my son told me that I was attacking too much and that I needed to go back to my usual defensive style,” White said.
Trailing 5-8 in the second game after Mitchell’s thunderous forearm shot sent him the wrong way and the crowd into a frenzy, White clawed back to lock the score at 9-9, with Mitchell guilty of committing several unforced errors.
Two forehands from Mitchell which slammed into the net gave his opponent a two-point cushion (12-10) before White imposed his dominance on the night’s proceedings.
An exquisite cross-court forehand shot was followed by a similarly impressive backhand winner as Jackson opened up his lead to 17-13 before duly finishing off the game.
He then rushed out to a 4-1 lead in the third set with an exhilarating 27-ball rally, ending with another Mitchell forearm into the net as White maintained his three-point lead (9-6).
Mitchell staged a comeback of his own, clawing his way back from a 13-17 hole to close the deficit to one (18-19), but a magnificent backhand drag by White which just brushed the top of the net ended his hopes of a remarkable victory.
The fourth set was all White. He took command of the game from 8-7 with some thrilling shots and some help from an obviously tiring Mitchell.
And despite fighting back to take the lead at 16-14, Mitchell wouldn’t win another point as White won seven consecutive points to wrap up the contest.
In the earlier “B” final, John “Floats” Cumberbatch defeated Junior “Big Arm” Boucher in straight sets, 21-19, 21-14, to earn a promotion to the “A” Class division.
The junior shotgun tournament was won by Kyle King, and the “A” Class shotgun competition by Mark “Venom” Griffith.
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