Defending champion Sheldene Walrond came from the death to enjoy the last laugh over new St James queen Rachel Smith. (FILE)
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Newly-crowned St James road tennis queen Rachel Smith was given a painful reminder of the proverb, “There’s many a slip ’twixt the cup and lip” when the semi-finals of the Touch Of Class Tournament were held on Thursday night at the Deighton “Pa” Roach Tennis Facility in Bush Hall.
Only five days before, Smith had defeated Sheldene Walrond to take the St James crown.
On Thursday night the slim attacker easily captured the first game 21-10 and was cantering to a straight-sets win at 19-16.
At that stage Smith’s previous taunts of her opponent seemed to be paying dividends as she received a ball which sat up just behind the net, suggesting an easy game and match point. Smith’s eyes opened wide as she wound up and thundered the ball into the net with it rebounding 25 feet behind Smith in the play park.
Smith recovered her focus and advantage to register game and match points at 20-18 and 20-19. But, in a twisted repeat of the St James final, Walrond locked the scores at 20 and evened the battle 22-20.
In the decider, Walrond found her form to surge from 7-4 before Smith rallied to 10-7 with a number of controversial calls, which added to the drama. With both players impressing with awesome smashes and countershots, Walrond played the smash of the night, blazing through Smith’s forehand to lock the score at 12.
Walrond then took charge, leading 14-12 as Smith’s new-found focus and talent kept her on track 13-14, 14-15 and 15-16. A creeper serve by Walrond defeated Smith, before Walrond jumped to 19-15.
Smith survived game and match point from 16-20 up to 18-20 looking to recreate the same winning script from St James. However, a return into the net allowed Walrond to have the last laugh and advance to meet Kim Holder in tonight’s finals.
Earlier, Holder qualified for the finals by defeating Abigail Haynes 21-14, 21-19. Kim will also be appearing in tonight’s double with her daughter Kyana Holder after they won their semis from veterans Sandra Bailey and Estherphyne Holder 21-18.
The other doubles finalists are Haynes and the stylish Cherene Ward, who surprisingly defeated 2017 winners Walrond and Smith 21-15.
Ironically, Bailey and Estherphyne engaged in a bitter and exhausting veteran semi-finals war with Estherphyne, ousting her good friend 21-9, 21-17. Estherphyne will face Susan Scantlebury in tonight’s final. (KB)