Griffith, Ward in road tennis final
Christ Church’s new road tennis hero, Victor “Earth” Ward and Mark “Venom” Griffith both battled from a set down on Sunday night to reach the Boxing Day final of the Silver Hill Championships.
Not even interruptions from rain could chase the big crowd who wanted to see Ward advance after he had disposed of juggernaut Julian “Michael Jackson” White in the quarterfinals of the Youth Development Programme initiative held under the auspices of the Ministry of Youth Affairs.
They were taken to the wire in the semifinal, watched by road tennis legend Deighton “Pa” Roach, as the Silver Sands veteran footballer was held, game and match point, 20-18, in the decider by south paw Adrian “Dan” Skeete of St John.
Skeete exploited Ward’s traditional slow start to rush to a 7-3 lead in the first set. Although Ward battled back thanks to his uncanny chopping style, the experienced Skeete moved away 20-14, before taking the advantage, 21-17 with a tremendous cross court smash.
With the support of almost a whole parish, Ward rebounded in the second set, seizing the upper hand 13-8, before squaring the contest with his trademark “injection” to leave Skeete scrambling to reach the ball, 21-15.
The decider was not for the faint-hearted as the scores were locked at 17-17 before Ward crept to 18-17.
Eagerness by Ward saw three successive errors handing Skeete game and match point, 20-18.
Grit from the favourite and impatience from Skeete saw Ward surviving to take the thriller 17-21, 21-15, 22-20.
Griffith had earlier played a game of attrition to wear down Marson Johnson 18-21, 21-3, 21-10 in a contest which was interrupted twice by rain.
With Griffith restraining his instinctive attacking style, Johnson took the first set before rain halted the battle for 15 minutes.
On resumption, Griffith and Johnson, who was obviously suffering from a back problem and lesser fitness, rallied the ball 52 times before the first point was scored. That rally left Johnson holding over gasping in pain.
Similarly long rallies then forced Johnson to concede the second set, facing a score of 3-16, with the intention of making one last gasp in the decider.
Griffith continued to move the ball from corner to corner while hissing and chasing down every drop shot with Johnson struggling to put away his smashes and hunching over at the end of each long rally. He got some reprieve when the rain held up the match for more than 35 minutes with Griffith leading 19-9.
After the match resumed, Johnson escaped a second “sow” before conceding the third set and match to catapult Griffith into the final.
The “B” Class semi-finals also saw comeback victories as the Went brothers were eliminated.
The dreadlocked Desmond “Hatcher” Wooding surged to defeat Rohan “Bill” Went 18-21, 21-14, 21-16, while Pierre Nurse performed a similar feat against Randy “Scar” Went 15-21, 21-19, 21-13.
The junior semi-finals also proved disastrous for two brothers while the residents of Silver Sands continued their good fortune with Adrian Williams topping the pint-sized Nicholas Ellis 21-14, 10-21, 21-10 and Dario Ward dismissing Hakeem Ellis 21-16, 21-17 in the only straight sets result of the night.
Both Williams and Ward are from Silver Sands.