Ask Anderson “St George” Sealy and he will tell you that he is one of the best, if not the best, road tennis player in Barbados.
Sealy showed why he holds that view although he has not won a national title in almost two decades as he scored a tremendous come from behind win over Victor “Earth” Ward in the round of 16 of the Monarch of the Court Road Tennis championship at the Belfield hardcourt on Sunday night.
With a large crowd looking on and with concerns about his fitness and age being a factor, Sealy made a non-issue of those things as he came from a game down to storm into the quarter-finals, 17-21, 23-21, 27-25 in a marathon battle of grit and skill.
From a score of 13-13 in the second game, Sealy pulled away to 18-13 before the fitter Ward caught him at 19 and went ahead for game and match point at 20-19. Sealy surged to take that game and then led throughout the decider, with Ward fighting back on every lead.
With Sealy surprisingly finding a second wind to reach most of Ward’s deadly ‘injections’, the latter showed frustration with the game being locked from 19, by giving up an easy point at 21-21 by appealing during a rally that Sealy had struck the ball out.
Under the tournament’s regulations, the rally is halted and the person making such an appeal loses the point once the officials deem that the ball was good. Ward would repeat the error at 25 pushing Sealy to 26-25.
However, while a dejected Ward walked away after losing the next point and the match, Sealy would point out that it was his superior play and skills which have kept him unbeaten and carried him closer to the $10 000 first prize as he sipped on his favourite brew.
One other upset seemed on the cards with the flamboyant Aaron Barker threatening to up-end Anthony “Ears” Mitchell, before the focused Mitchell continued his unbeaten run into the quarter-finals 21-19, 17-21, 21-17.
Crowd pleaser Antoine “Lil Man” Daniel then gave a road tennis tutorial to talented youngster Emar Edwards while punishing him for any errors in his learning, 21-14, 21-18.
With Edwards playing deep to try to handle Daniel’s missiles, the youngster overlooked the fact that Daniel is also a master with the injection. Daniel scored his third point in the first game with an injection that almost landed Edwards on his face.
A later Daniel injection which landed in the half foot square behind the net stunned everyone and impressed Edwards as the ball then turned squarely away from the court.
While Daniel focused on entertaining and teaching, Edwards attempted to hit his way to a win which saw him gaining an 18-17 lead in the second game. However, the ball was then ruptured and a newer and harder ball was introduced, which to Daniel was the equal of giving a young Malcolm Marshall a new ball on the Kensington Oval pitch of yesteryear.
Such lessons would not have been wasted on Edwards, nor Mark “Venom” Griffith, who took in the action perched high on a wall outside of the arena.
Griffith would have met Adrian “Dan” Skeete last night with the fans looking for Griffith to advance and meet Daniel in a quarter-finals slugfest. Daniel has so far kept his word in two meetings to beat Griffith whenever they clash.
The night capper was far from exciting, as Marson Johnson defeated hometown boy Kyle King 21-15, 23-21 in spite of King fighting back from 15 to deuce the second game.
The Under-21 competition served off with Darius “Barracus” Gaskin destroying Justin Smith 21-7, 21-8. Smith’s older brother Dario Hinds needed three sets to stop southpaw Shawn Spencer 18-21, 21-12, 21-14.