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‘Venom’ made to fight for last eight

Kenmore Bynoe

‘Venom’ made to  fight for last eight

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This one was just as close as the scores indicate. Playing with the heart of a lion, defending champion Mark “Venom” Griffith turned back a challenge from young turk Darius “Baraccus” Gaskin to advance to the quarter-finals of the Massy Clash Of The Titans Road Tennis Tournament on Sunday night at The Villages in Coverley, Christ Church.

With a massive crowd “oohing” and “aahing” as both combatants were locked battle with intensity while unreeling line and cross-court gems, Griffith justified his No. 1 ranking to pull off the victory 23-21, 21-19.

While Gaskin showed his steady improving play as he executed backhand and forehand smashes, Griffith demonstrated what supreme fitness can accomplish as he returned almost every ball fired into his court.

Griffith also unveiled a new weapon where he scored some critical points from smoking smashes as he gave it his all looking for the tournament’s first real upset.

The first game saw the scores being locked from nine right up to 21 before Griffith took the bruiser, leaving Gaskin sitting on his backside, almost exhausted, while his camp started making nervous glances in the direction of the Coverley Medical Centre.

A similar tussle occurred in the second game, with the scores locking at 13 before Gaskin led 16-14.  

Griffith locked scores at 16 and rushed to 19-16. Gaskin caught up at 19 and should have advanced to 20-19 before a line error saw the chair overruling the line person’s incorrect call and replaying the point.

Griffith won the next two points to wrap up the contest.

The night cap game proved to be a dud with Julian “Michael Jackson” White showing his class while Shibbir Greenidge displayed why he is considered the “Carl Hooper” of road tennis as he showed glimpses of brilliance to then disappoint and fold 13-21, 17-21.

Young, confident Dario Hinds came from a game down to defeat Kerry “TC” Francis 17-21, 21-16, 21-18 in the night’s other exciting encounter.

  Francis repeatedly left Hinds running in the wrong direction as he sought to nullify the youngster’s fifth-seed ranking.

However, Hinds countered with his aggressive style and after taking the second set he seemed on course for a rout in the third, particularly with a cross-court scorcher which he accentuated with a Kodak pose.

Francis battled back from 16-18 and should have evened the scores at 19 but a horrible serving error allowed Hinds to easily take the decider.

The easiest win of the night went to Emar Edwards as his opponent Chesterfield “Boy Boy” Brewster was suffering from the double of an injured arm and a bout of chikungunya.

Edwards will play Griffith and Hinds will meet White in the quarter-finals.

The women also took to the court on Sunday night with No. 1 Kim Holder qualifying to meet the slimy-built Rachel Smith in the final on Independence Day.  

The shotgun results had seen Susan Scantlebury beating newcomer Lyndonne Payne 21-16, Smith stopped Sheldene Walrond 21-14, Banks Calendar Girl finalist Charene Ward edged Margo Lorde 22-20, Holder defeated Esterpheyne Holder 21-14 and Scantlebury took out Carlyn Haynes 21-12.

The semi-final battles saw Kim Holder knocking out Ward 21-13 and Smith pipping Scantlebury 21-19.