Edwards in another upset, White survives scare
It was so nice, Emar Edwards had to do it twice.
Edwards, one of road tennis’ fast-rising juniors, continued his fairytale run by eliminating Kerry “TC” Francis on Wednesday night at the Wildey Gymnasium’s car park, as the big names continued to fall in the United Insurance Clash of the Titans Road Tennis Competition.
Fresh from ousting Victor “Earth” Ward in the opening round, Edwards registered a hard fought 21-15, 10-21, 21-17 victory against the highly-rated Francis to bounce off a thrilling night of tennis.
Shamon Weekes ensured the upsets would not end there, as he ousted fifth seeded Marson Johnson in straight sets, 23-21, 21-17.
Another junior, Dario Hinds, had earlier sent a hush around the court, when he pushed No. 1 seed, Julian “Michael Jackson” White to the brink of elimination.
Leading White 18-17 in the final set after the two players split the opening two games, Hinds just couldn’t hold on for victory, as White showcased his class and skill with four consecutive attacking shots to win, 21-8, 19-21, 21-18.
Then in the night’s final game, Curtis Jones had an easy 21-10, 21-11 win over a nervous looking Aaron Barker to also book his spot in the next round.
Playing in the night’s first match Edwards made a strong start against Francis, rushing out to a commanding 9-2 lead, thanks mainly to his steady, consistent play.
Some rushed shots allowed Francis to get back into the game. He closed the gap to just two at 10-12, but Edwards maintained his composure to wrap up the first set.
Careless play by the 16-year-old in the second set, during which he committed several unforced errors, saw Francis take a 12-1 lead, allowing him to cruise home.
The third set was the most competitive, as Francis rallied from 2-7 down to lock the score at 10.
Edwards then won the next five points to make it 15-10, only to watch his opponent trim it to two (16-14) on his service.
Thereafter, Edwards used his youth and athleticism to out-rally and outlast a tiring Francis.
White and Hinds then treated spectators to an exhilarating contest. White completely dominated the opening set, handing Hinds a quick sow.
But things heated up in the second set, with Hinds holding a comfortable 10-5 lead, courtesy of some attractive forehand shots.
That lead all but disappeared behind some stern defence from White, who overtook his opponent to hold a 19-16 lead, as a straight sets defeat for Hinds looked inevitable.
However, the youngster unbelievably won all five of his service points to force a third and decisive set.
Similarly to the first set, White once again took firm control from the start, building a five point advantage (10-5) as the two players switched sides.
With his father nearby giving him encouragement, Hinds settled down to play some intelligent tennis, with White’s backhand into the net pulling him within one at 13-12.
And when he overtook the veteran at 18-17, mouths could be seen gaping wide open in complete shock.
White then showed why he has been Barbados’ top player for the past two decades, completely altering his style of play for the final points.
First he punched a winning forehand down the line to tie the score, before following that up with three similar shots, which his opponent either hit into the net, or sent the return long.