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‘Good enough to beat them again’


MIKE KING

‘Good enough to beat them again’

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Julian“Michael Jackson” White and Mark “Venom” Griffith can go back to the drawing boards. The man who vanquished both of them says he is good enough to continue beating them.

Fresh from toppling White and Griffith, the island’s two highest-ranked road tennis players at the lucrative Monarchs of the Court tournament, Antonio “Lil Man” Daniel says his dominant attacking style will separate him from the rest of the pack.

“I am a complete player. I don’t think I can get any better in my game because I am now in my 40s, but I am good enough to beat them. I am a very versatile player and I am a lot of different styles,” said a buoyant Daniel, the toast of the town after last weekend’s stirring triumph that earned him $10 000, the largest payday in the sport.

Daniel told the DAILY NATION there was a special feeling in knocking off the durable White, the most successful player in the land with more than 30 tournament wins.

“I had Jackson (White) to beat in the final of the Silver Hill tournament. I was ahead 18-14 in the last game and he got away, but mistakes like those don’t happen every day. I know I would have gotten him this time, I was confident I would beat him this time.

“I wasn’t worried when he took the third game. The plan was just to stick with him in the fourth game because I knew I could step up. I had the shots that would pull me clear.

“You have to come with a game plan when you are playing a guy like Jackson. He is very good. Jackson is a top man.”

Daniel can reel off more winners than any other in the land, and he thinks his natural gifts gave him an edge. What’s more, the 45-year-old taxi-driver stopped work for the last three weeks in a determined quest to get the whopping first prize cheque.

“I am a natural and had the shots from as a schoolboy I have forgotten how to play them. It is great to have the talent but one still has to prepare. This tournament was $10 000 and I didn’t plan to give up that kind of money without a big effort.

“At Coverley, Venom (Mark Griffith), had me 16-9 and 18-10. He thought he won but I wasn’t giving up like that. Too much was at stake. I wanted the money and Griffith is the one player that I am not going to let beat me.

“Griffith has not given me any respect and each time I play him I am going to beat him. When I won the Monarchs of the Courts title on Sunday night, he was there and did not even shake my hand,” Daniel said.

White was gracious in defeat and hailed the dashing Daniel as the Rolls-Royce of road tennis.

“He played decent tennis. I always give Antonio credit, he has Brian Lara-timed tennis shots, he is the Rolls-Royce of road tennis.

“Antonio is the guy that the fans come to see, he is an entertaining player. I have no problems with him at all. He was successsful this time, but I will be back, you can count on that.”

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