Gaskin king of the road
It wasn’t an “A” class tournament, but Darius “Barracus” Gaskin was certainly in a class all by himself.
And it was only fitting that on a bank holiday when Barbados celebrated its National Heroes, Gaskin turned in a heroic performance.
Barbados’ top junior road tennis player ruthlessly dismissed Dario Hinds 21-14, 21-14 in the final of the Bush Hall Dungeon Road Tennis “B” class competition on Monday night at the Deighton “Pa” Roach Tennis Centre.
It also proved a memorable night for road tennis’ newest queen, Rachel Smith, who overcame Juliette Worrell in a thrilling three-setter 21-15, 14-21, 21-19 to claim her first title.
Tyrone “Lebron” Carter, too, was in winners row, capturing the dungeon title with a convincing 21-18, 21-12 win over Rudy “National” Gill.
But the night undoubtedly belonged to Gaskin, the Under-21 Inter-Parish champion, who wowed the packed centre with a breathtaking display of power hitting on the way to notching his second title of the year.
Watched by arguably the island’s best player, Julian “Michael Jackson” White, Gaskin dominated Hinds from the onset.
Using his powerful forehand as his main offensive weapon, the 18-year-old quickly rushed to a 9-2 lead, as Hinds struggled to settle down, as was evident when he slammed an easy smash into the net.
Heeding the advice from his father, Hinds switched his game plan, opting instead to play Gaskin’s backhand.
It produced immediate results, even if short-lived, as some unforced errors by his opponent helped Hinds to get within three points (9-12).
However, it was back to “regular scheduled programming” once Gaskin decided to run around his backhand with his favoured forehand and blast balls past Hinds on both sides of the court.
Two more beautifully played crosscourt forehand winners stretched the lead to 18-13, before Gaskin brought the crowd on its feet with a classy down the line winner to close out the set.
The second set was a much closer affair, with Hinds outrallying Gaskin early on to lock the score at 5-5.
But from 7-7, Gaskin upped the tempo to turn the game on its heels.
He powered two ferocious forehands past his stationary opponent to make it 11-9, with Hinds’ failed injection only adding further to his demise.
And once Hinds’ attempts to counter-attack Gaskin failed, allowing the lead to balloon to six (15-9), the writing was on the wall, but not before Gaskin made the crowd erupt once more with the shot of the night, an effortlessly and stylishly played forehand which whizzed across the court and left Hinds a mere spectator.
“I wasn’t expecting to win this easy because when I watched him beat Emar [Edwards] in the semi-finals he was putting on a lot of balls,” a smiling Gaskin told MIDWEEK SPORT.
“But he didn’t play as well tonight. You know everyone has bad nights sometimes . . . but I played my best and I won tonight.”
For his achievement he walked away with a trophy, a tablet and $200, while Hinds took home a trophy and $150.
Earlier in the women’s final, Smith twice threw away massive leads before eventually turning back a determined Worrell.
After comfortably winning the first set, she allowed a 5-1 and 9-4 lead to slip away in the second set, allowing Worrell to even the series at 1-1.
The 27-year-old hard-hitting Smith almost let another huge lead slip as she failed to build on her 7-1 advantage early on in the decisive third set.
Trailing 16-20, Worrell fought back to win the next three points to set up a tense finish to the match.
So intense was the final point, there was deafening silence throughout their 14-ball rally.
But once Worrell sent her forehand long, the crowd broke out in applause and Smith raised her racquet in triumph.