Lil Man stands tall
Antoine “Lil Man” Daniel brought his searing fire to the Monarchs Of The Courts Professional Road Tennis Association’s competition in Belfield on Friday night.
And, just as he had done in Silver Hill two months ago, Daniel put on a sublime display of balance, style and power to once again deny the confident Mark “Venom” Griffith 21-17, to top Zone 2.
Griffith ended second in the zone to continue a recent trend of him finishing second-best whenever he battles Daniel.
However, Griffith showed why he is considered the heir apparent for the road tennis kingdom, as he matched Daniel’s rasping serves, deft touches and driving smashes with his own resilience and counterplay to remain in the hunt.
The score was equalled constantly with neither player being able to gain more than a two-point lead.
Daniel sent the crowd into a frenzy as he marched to 12-10 with a shifting smash through Griffith’s forehand which had even the spectators looking in the wrong direction.
Griffith locked the scores at 12 with a master move in which he accelerated into the court to smash a dangerous injection past Daniel’s backhand as the latter could only stand gaping
However, Daniel continued to play his serve and smash game mixed with some deft touches to pull away. After going ahead at 17-16, he produced a crunching ace (18-16) before wowing the crowd with a crosscourt smash for his 20th point.
The 21st winner was just as spectacular – from an off-balanced forehand drag which sent Griffith in the wrong direction.
Even two of Griffith’s biggest fans were among those who ran onto the court and embraced Daniel while he held his arms aloft in triumph.
Friday night proved to be the night of the “old men”, with Anthony “Baku” Simmons defeating Emar Edwards, who is more than 40 years his junior, 21-17. Charles “McEnroe” Griffith was pure class in inflicting a sow on Michael Jean 21-9.
Earlier, Mark Griffith had beaten Gary “Kojak” Thomas 21-13 and Edwards had stopped David “Ja Paul” Phillips 21-16, with Edwards qualifying in second spot from Zone 7.
Today, the 21-and-under competition starts as well as the battle among the top 16.
One game is to be completed to determine the final position in Zone 8, with Jerry Harris meeting the unpredictable Jean for the second spot and the dubious honour of meeting Julian “Michael Jackson” White tomorrow.
Jean is not in the running for the second spot but Harris needs to get 15 points to shut out Charles Griffith for that berth.
At 6:30 p.m. junior Darius “Baraccus” Gaskin takes on Justin Smith and then Dario Hinds battles Shawn Spencer. Hinds has qualified for the top 16 in the Monarchs Of The Courts.
The first match for the $10 000 top prize pits former national table tennis player Aaron Barker, runner-up in Zone 5, against Anthony “Ears” Mitchell, who had topped Zone 4.
Anderson “St George” Sealy, who dominated Zone 8, battles Victor “Earth” Ward, finished second in Zone 1.
The determined Edwards will try to cool off Daniel before home-town favourite youngster Kyle King clashes with the resolute Marson Johnson. King had placed second in Zone 4 while Johnson had dominated Zone 5.