‘A’ class play
Julian “Michael Jackson” White is still undoubtedly the world boss.
But on Saturday night, Antoine “Li’l Man” Daniel was the Dover boss.
Combining style and class with relentless aggression, Daniel wowed the crowd on hand with some exciting road tennis at the Dover courts, as St Michael predictably stamped their dominance by winning both the ‘A’ class and veterans titles in the National Sports Council’s Inter-Parish Road Tennis Championships.
In the ‘A’ class, Daniel defeated Marson Johnson 21-14, 24-22, while Jackson inflicted two embarrassing “sows” on the way to upending David Arrendell 21-5, 21-5 to lead St Michael to their second consecutive ‘A’ title.
Despite Andrew Holder losing to Christ Church’s Glen “Chicken” Harris 7-21, 21-16,13-21, his partner Jeffrey “Bing Crosby” Layne easily plucked Ian “Chicken” Yearwood 21-7, 21-14 to win the veterans class by virtue of having won more points.
From the time Daniel took to the court to warm up against his opponent from Christ Church, spectators were bubbling with excitement.
And within the match’s first three points, he had shown why he is considered a legend in road tennis in Barbados.
His very first point was courtesy of a thunderous forehand shot which Johnson could just watch as it rocketed by, while his third was even better, an elegant forehand down the line which left his opponent in a daze.
Daniel’s powerful serve was also proving troublesome for Johnson, as he raced out to a quick 10-0 lead.
Another vicious forehand from Daniel almost sent Johnson into the advertising board in his attempt to return it, as a “sow” loomed with the score 14-6.
However, some good shot selection from Johnson coupled with some errors by his opponent allowed him back into the game, before Daniel duly closed out the set at 21-14.
The second set proved to be the match of the night, with Johnson benefiting from several unforced errors from Daniel, who at times was overly aggressive.
It allowed Johnson to race out to a 8-4 lead, and with his opponent still continuing to be aggressive, he extended it to 12-8.
On the strength of his serve, Daniel pulled within one at 18-17, before locking the scores at 19 with a brilliant down the line forehand shot and forcing a deuce game.
And after the players each wasted an opportunity to close out the set, Johnson’s wayward backhand shot gave Daniel the win, much to the delight of the audience.
The ensuing match between White and Arrendell was expected to be the highlight, but it quickly turned into a one man show.
Arrendell never came to grips with the occasion, and White never relinquished his iron grip.
Time after time Arrendell inexplicably either sent his shots into the net or wide of the court, as White transformed his early 10-2 lead into an expected “sow”.
The second set was almost a replica of the first as an obviously nervous Arrendell continued to commit unforced error after error. White duly obliged by once again rushing out to a 12-2 lead.
With the score 15-5, Jackson wouldn’t lose another point; a beautiful cross court winner taking him to 19, before Arrendell ended his misery by sending a backhard return into the net.
Earlier, Harris had given Christ Church hope of creating an upset in the veterans when he gave Holder a “sow” in the night’s first game.
But an inspired Holder rebounded in the second set to claim a valuable victory, along with some much needed points, before eventually succumbing in the third and final set.
Layne then returned the favour to Yearwood in a lopsided first game. Yearwood, needing to win the second set to give Christ Church any chance, gave an improved effort but it still wasn’t enough to get over Layne, who thrilled the crowd as usual with his entertaining antics.