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‘Venom’ makes his mark

Randy Bennett

‘Venom’ makes his mark

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Mark “Venom” Griffith knows what it is to be a champion.
And he brought along Chester “Boy Boy” Brewster for the ride.
Together, St Michael’s dynamic duo earned the parish their first ‘B’ class title in the National Sports Council’s Inter-Parish Road Tennis Championships when they defeated Christ Church’s Simon Bayne and Kamal Durant, respectively, Friday night at Dover.
Fresh from winning last month’s Silver Hill Road Tennis Competition, Griffith followed up Brewster’s commanding 21-16, 21-17 victory over Durant in the first match, by putting on a dominant display to defeat Bayne 21-14, 21-14 before a sizeable crowd.
On a night of competition that had it all – excitement, suspense, entertainment and camaraderie – Dario Hinds and Kim Holder also emerged victorious, winning the junior and women’s titles, respectively.
Playing in the nightcap, Brewster rallied from an early 1-5 deficit to lock the scores at 5-5, after four straight forehands from Durant were drilled into the net.
Playing a patient backhand to backhand game, Brewster was content to wait for his opponent to attack, with Durant struggling to get his attacking game going.
It allowed Brewster to build a comfortable 12-8 lead, and despite Durant closing the gap to three points (11-14), he comfortably took the opening set.
Brewster’s growing confidence could be seen in the second set, with his powerful forehand hitting past Durant at will as he rushed to a 12-4 lead.
Durant all the while continued to struggle with his forehand shots, with his frustration becoming evident when he served out to give Brewster an 18-11 advantage.
With victory in sight, some needless mistakes from Brewster saw Durant claw his way back to 20-17, before another forehand into the net brought the contest to a close.
Griffith then took to the court and wasted no time getting down to business.
He abandoned his usual defensive game, dragging Bayne deep into his forehand, before stepping around to smash forehand winners into his opponent’s backhand, leaving him a mere spectator.
Griffith dominated from the onset, building a 14-6 lead before eventually closing out the game at 14.
His aggression continued into the second set, as he brought the crowd to their feet with his passing shots.
Bayne was not to be outdone, as he engaged Griffith in long rallies which brought “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd.
His strategy of playing short balls just behind the net proved to be ineffective against a fit Griffith, who used the long handle of his racquet to good effect.
A 21-14 victory signalled St Michael’s capture of the title as Brewster ran on to the court to embrace his partner in celebration.
Earlier, St George’s Holder had held off a stern challenge from newcomer Suzanne Scantlebury, of St Michael, coming from a set down to win 18-21, 21-17, 21-12 and capture her second successive crown.
Holder’s aggression was countered by Scantlebury’s blocking technique and despite battling back from 13-17 to make it a one-point game (17-18) she still lost the first set.
But Holder’s powerful forearm for which she is well known came to her rescue just in time, and two errors from her opponent gave her an 18-16 lead, before going on to win and force a deciding third game, the only one of the night.
However, the defending champion would show her class when it mattered most, powering past Scantlebury with ease, turning a close 10-10 game into a 18-12 lead before winning the next three points to retain her title.
“It was an exciting game and I had to actually stop playing some of my usual aggressive shots because I was spoiling a lot of them,” she told SUNSPORT.
“But Suzanne is a good player and she really pushed me to my limit.”
Playing in the junior finals, Hinds, who was representing St James, put on a stellar performance to turn back St George’s Emar Andrews in straight sets 21-10, 21-19.
“It feels very good and I am delighted to have won,” the 17-year-old student of Coleridge and Parry said, shortly after completing victory.
“I knew it would have been a close match and it would have been a tough fight but in the end, I came through.”