‘Jackson’ forced to beat it
“Lil Man” proved to be the big man and $10 000 richer to boot when the Monarchs of the Courts climaxed in front of hundreds of fans at the Ranch on the Spring Garden Highway on Sunday night.
Playing an uncharacteristic restrained game Antoine Daniel upstaged Julian “Michael Jackson” White, 21-14, 21-16, 12-21, 21-16 to trigger another “Grand Kadooment” as his adoring fans cheered, danced and hoisted their hero shoulder high while White had to settle for $5 000.
Daniel’s only letdown for his hundreds of supporters was that he focused more on control than his usual fire to take down the highest ranked player in the sport of road tennis.
Even so, the fans screamed for more whenever Daniel blasted one of his missiles past an out of sort White. Nothing was sweeter than in the second set when Daniel blasted successive backhand shots at 13-12 and 14-12, creating a tremendous roar from the crowd.
Both players were circumspect about the court which was not playing true after rain had disrupted the night’s action from 8:15 until 10:20 p.m. At that stage the 21 and Under finals were being played, with Emar Edwards emerging victorious over Darius “Baraccus” Gaskin 21-15, 21-19 after the match was halted with Edwards leading 5-2 in the second game.
Tremendous efforts by the organisers in drying the court repeatedly after over six separate showers proved successful in getting the matches completed with few of the spectators leaving. Among the throng of supporters were Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley and former MPs Mark Williams and Joseph Atherley.
While paying tribute to the game which Daniel played, White expressed some concerns about his errors and the officiating.
“I was spoiling some very simple balls. I really wanted to win the first game but after some bad calls the game got away from me,” said White.
The normally calm player was rattled in both the first and second game by some controversial calls as he trailed throughout both games. Both players made some simple errors such as hitting into the net or serving out but Daniel maintained the advantage, mixing his defence with some spicy shots.
Like two great fencers the players parried and thrust serving centre court with White trying to keep the ball between centre and Daniel’s forehand while Daniel constantly attacked Daniel’s backhand. At 19-16 in the second set, Daniel blasted three successive shots which were returned before the master blaster cut the fourth shot at an angle to leave White standing.
White offered his fans some hope by adopting his crouching style in the third game to open a 7-3 lead with the nearest Daniel reaching was within four points. The closest game proved to be the fourth with scores being locked up to 13 before a shifting smash by Daniel and a controversial point moved him to 15-13 and a winning position.
Daniel provided dessert for the night’s feast at 19-16. After White saved an injection, Daniel caressed the return down the line to start the Kadooment among the fans.
“I had always planned that to beat Jackson. I had to win in three or four games. I took the advantage from early because Jackson was looking for my power game. But, I had learnt from my game with Curtis (Jones) that after the rain this court sticks and it is difficult to play my shots,” said Daniel.
“I decided that I was not going to fight the court. It was hard not to go for my attacking shots, but I saw money,” added Daniel.
Credited for bringing out hundred of old and new supporters, Daniel has indicated that he will continue training to regain full form but he cautioned his fans that he will be choosing the tournaments he enters.
“I will continue training to get fitter and once any big tournaments come up the fans can look for Antoine and the fellows can prepare for trouble,” he asserted.