St Michael rule Road
Julian “Michael Jackson” White and Mark “Venom” Griffith arrived in a limousine, Darius “Barracus” Gaskin staged an improbable comeback and Aaron Barker showed uncanny resistance.
St Michael stole the spotlight, capturing all three titles up for grabs when the curtains came down on the National Sports Council’s Inter-Parish Road Tennis Championships at the Springer Memorial School on Saturday night.
The parish continued from where it left off last year, repeating as both “A” and “B” class champions, while Gaskin added the 21-and-Under title for good measure.
The “A” class pair of Griffith and Jackson predictably won their parish’s third successive title, when Griffith defeated Christ Church’s Marson Johnson 21-16, 21-15 before White, the “world boss” displayed his dominance in a 21-13, 21-10 demolition of David Arendell.
Davien “Forceripe” Taylor’s 21-18, 21-12 domination of Christ Church’s Simon Bayne, and Barker’s 21-18, 5-21, 21-14 hard-fought win over the highly fancied Victor “Earth” Ward, gave St Michael the “B” title, much to the delight of their fans who had packed into the indoor venue.
Gaskin the 2010 champion, had earlier come from a set down, and saved two match points, before condemning St George’s Emar Edwards, the 2011 champion, to his second straight finals defeat winning 14-21, 22-20, 21-19.
Not surprisingly though, it was the “B” class and the juniors finals which stole the show.
The supposed comeback of second-time finalists Johnson and Arendell never materialized, as neither came close to even winning a set.
Griffith was his usual solid self, returning Johnson’s backhand drags with the utmost of ease, while using his lightning quick reflexes to get back into position.
So commanding was his performance that he never trailed in any of the two sets.
White was also at his clinical best in a rematch of the 2013 final against Arendell, and apart from a slow start where he trailed 0-6 in the first set, he was always in the driver’s seat.
In fact, after winning the first set, all that was left to determine was how many points Arendell would get in the second.
“This was even easier than I expected,” a delighted Griffith told NATIONSPORT.
“I thought that Marson would have at least won a set.
“But there was never any doubt that Jackson and I would have brought home the win for St Michael.
“Arendell is a very easy and simple player to play. And I knew that once I got ahead of him all he would be studying is the two sows I gave him last year,” White explained.
Despite losing to Barker, Ward thrilled spectators with some breathtaking tennis, as he tried to overcome his partner’s humiliating loss to Taylor.
Needing to limit Barker to under 30 points, Ward suffered a major setback when his opponent won the first set.
But a determined Ward turned the tables on Barker in the ensuing set, establishing a 12-0 lead on his way to dishing out the first sow of the final.
However, a resurgent Barker, needing just four points to guarantee victory in the third set, went one step better by defeating Ward.
“After winning the first game I got a bit complacent. But to be honest when the score was 12-0, I didn’t know how I would get a point,” Barker admitted.
Taylor explained “my aim was to ease the pressure off of Aaron and that is exactly what I did.”
Playing in the night’s first match, Edwards was a picture of confidence and concentration.
Trailing 8-10, he rattled off nine straight points to take the lead at 17-10, before going on to win the set. And after four short breaks because of mechanical issues with the lights, Edwards looked sure of avenging his defeat to Dario Hinds in last year’s final when he won three straight points to take a 20-17 lead.
But Gaskin would win the next four points to assume a 21-20 lead, before finishing off his comeback with a delightful smash. He wasn’t done yet, carrying the momentum into the third and decisive set, on his way to winning a pulsating game, 21-19.
“I kept my head up because I know tennis is 21, and I played to win the game,” an elated Gaskin stated.