Over the past two weeks, the car park of the Wildey Gymnasium was transformed into a battlefield during the inaugural United Insurance Clash Of The Titans Road Tennis Competition.
In the end, Mark “Venom” Griffith emerged victorious from a field of 32 participants, edging Curtis Jones 21-18, 21-14, 19-21, 26-28, 21-10 in a thriller on Saturday night.
Kudos must be given to title sponsor United Insurance, as well as president of the Professional Road Tennis Association (PRTA) of Barbados, Dale Clarke, who hosted the event, for putting on an excellent show.
The Gymnasium’s car park proved to be a good location, as along with the usual road tennis crowd, it attracted attention from the many people who frequent the premises for exercise and other activities.
Musician Nicholas Brancker, president of the Barbados Amateur Basketball Association (BABA), Derrick Garrett, and Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler were some of the popular faces among the spectators.
Along with the high quality of competition, the players also upheld the dress code, which featured multicoloured shirts with the names of some of the event’s sponsors.
When the competition reached the semi-final stage, the players wore full, sponsored gear, which gave it a professional feel.
In addition, the fact that the scorers, linesmen and all other tournament officials were also clad in similar clothing helped to lift the overall quality of the competition.
The availability of bleachers for spectators to sit was also appreciated, as it meant that people didn’t have to walk with their own chairs.
I also applaud the organizers for their vision to stream the finals live on the Caribbean Media Corporation’s (CMC) website, making it available to hundreds of thousands of people around the region.
However, despite its obvious success, there are some areas which can be improved upon if there are plans to make the event an annual one.
One of the biggest talking points throughout the competition was the court’s slow surface.
The slow nature of the court didn’t allow for flowing tennis, as it forced most of the players to adopt a defensive style.
A faster court, which better suits a faster and more exciting brand of road tennis, should be explored.
One other improvement which could also be made is the availability of a cover or tarpaulin for all matches.
Heavy rain forced the semi-final matches to be postponed after there were no covers for the court.
However, the necessary preparations were made for the finals, so that a heavy downpour just before the scheduled start only served as a temporary delay.
All in all, the tournament is a welcome addition and with some minor tweaks, it can certainly become one of the most anticipated events on the road tennis calendar.