Bajans win and lose
Those of you who have been keeping tabs can now add the Kings of Brandons Beach title in the Sizzlin’ Sands Barbados Sunsplash to the National Bank, BS&T and the host of other Bajan heirlooms which have been handed over to sister country Trinidad and Tobago.
First-time pair of Fabian Whitfield and Simon Blake teamed up to deny hometown favourites Elwyn Oxley and Gregory Gill their fifth crown 25-23, 21-15, on Sunday at Brandons. It seemed that the Trinis had even acquired all of the bleachers as they were more visible and vocal for their boys.
With Oxley and Gill hurtling towards an obvious defeat the commentator asked where the home support was. He just needed to look outside the fenced-in area to see more than half of the spectators were outside as they either refused or could not pay the first-time entrance fee of $5.
Blake and Whitfield grabbed the initiative early in the first set. The Trinidad players then set about to torment and outplay Oxley at net and Gill in ground defence.
National player Blake elevated and smoked the sand as if he was playing indoors and it was a novelty to see someone hitting past Oxley with such consistent disdain. Switching a sluggish Gill to block while Oxley tried to dig some of the Trinidad fire slowed but did not stop the inevitable loss.
Oxley later said that he was aware of Blake’s spiking ability but the two Trinidadians lifted their game while he and Gill were somewhat overconfident going into the finals. Whitfield said that in spite of winning in straight sets, the match was not easy but it was just a case of he and Blake wanting the victory more than the Bajans.
The winners earned US$500 each with Oxley and Gill taking home $300. Jamaican Mark Lewis and Kengie Matthews won $200 each, leaving Kyle Browne and Jabarry Goodridge fourth and out of the money.
In women’s action, a Bajan team finally ended the three-year rule of the Canadians.
The combination of first-time finalists Shari Matthews and Rockets teammate Leila Peiper proved the key to beating Karen Sutherland and Maxine James 21-16, 23-21. With Sutherland and James lacking the speed and mobility of Peiper in the sand, Matthews was asked to play the unusual supporting role.
The former Caribbean MVP still crashed down some crunching kills which offset the style of the visitors who depended on accumulating points with smart drops and off speed shots. But, Peiper with her perpetual Cheshire cat-like smile, was the star of the beach with her never say die defence and solid spikes.
That smile almost faded when Peiper served away at game and match points 20-19 in the second set. But the visiting Canadians never took charge as Matthews gave them a dose of their medicine by ending the game by pretending to set the ball but cheekily passing it over the net into a sharp and unprotected diagonal.
Matthews and Peiper earned US$500 while Sutherland and James won $300 each. The third prize and $200 went to the St Kitts pair of Shanicia Dyer and Brenda Allen. Anthazia Mason and Julia Lewis ended fourth.