Daniel, White in showdown
Barbados’ most entertaining player, Antoine “Lil Man” Daniel will battle the world’s best, Julian “Michael Jackson” White, when the Monarchs Of The Courts road tennis tournament climaxes on Sunday at the Ranch, Spring Garden.
Adhering to a script seemingly written since the tournament was launched a month ago, both Daniel and White qualified for the shot at the $10 000 winner’s prize with tough but straight sets victories on Wednesday night. White shut down Anthony “Ears” Mitchell 21-15, 21-19, 21-16 while Daniel stopped Curtis Jones 23-21, 21-9, 23-21.
Ironically, the tournament was switched from a team competition to an individual contest after both White and Daniel were teamed in a bomb squad which the other players protested. While the winner of the original concept would have won and shared $10 000 among seven people, Daniel and White will be playing in the final for a combined fee of $15 000 on Sunday.
The losing finalist will pocket $5 000 while Curtis and Mitchell will battle for $2 000 and $1 000 respectively. The 21-and-under final will see the solid Emar Edwards taking on Darius “Baraccus” Gaskin. Gaskin defeated Keon Murrell 21-14, 19-21, 21-18 and Edwards fought from a set down to beat Dario Hinds 20-22, 21-13, 21-17.
The biggest crowd to date turned out for the semi-finals with the numbers surpassing the 1 500 which had turned out for the quarter-finals at The Villages at Coverley. Neither Daniel nor White disappointed the fans with their array of shots and classy posing providing sheer entertainment while causing agony for their opponents.
The nightcap should have gone beyond three games but Jones just could not convert advantages gained from Daniel’s thirst to play shots even when they were not available. Jones led 8-2 in the first game before Daniel reeled him back in. Even so, the first time that Daniel caught his opponent was when he played a shifting smash to lock the scores at 12.
Jones regained the lead to move to 17-14 with a deadly injection before Daniel racked up points with his vicious serves to play another shifting smash to lock the scores at 19. The fans were almost delirious when Daniel conjured up an injection to lock the scores at 21, and then posed for the cameras while Jones was left frozen on the base line.
After taking the first game Daniel roughed up Jones handing him an embarrassing sow in the second before Jones showed his ranking by challenging in the third.
However, the class, form and fire of Daniel could not be denied.
At 17, all Jones darted into the court and fired a sure-shot which Daniel countered by caressing the ball past his opponent as Jones could only kneel while bowing his head to a road tennis genius.
Earlier, a 20-minute rain interruption had halted the fight between White and Mitchell with White leading 13-8 in the second set. Mitchell never looked competitive as he “spoiled” many of his attacking shots with White playing a centre-court game to deny the attacker the width to swing.
With superior court craft and ball control, White uncurled some gems which kept the crowd clamouring for more while he totally outplayed an out-of-sorts Mitchell. That game proved to be the appetiser for the flaming main course served up by Daniel.