SHOOTING FOR GOAL: ‘Venom’ one of the best
Blessings: Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them. – Mark 10:14
WHEN THE HISTORY of road tennis is documented the name Mark “Venom” Griffith will be among the top 10 on the list.
His professionalism, fitness, focus and work ethic are amazing. The defeat of the former youth and senior champion and crowd favourite, the irrepressible Antonio “Lil Man” Daniel, will surely live long in everyone’s memory.
Having defeated Daniel last year in four sets in the final at Coverley, Christ Church, this last victory by Griffith was more emphatic as it was a straight-sets blowout.
The top prize was a brand-new car worth $60 000.
Let’s compliment the Professional Road Tennis Association (PRTA) and sponsors for a fantastic job, also the scorers and linesmen.
Fifty years ago we were simply playing for a little silver cup and medals, but in this tournament, at the Flow complex in Wildey, the players were battling for the right to win a car.
Looking at the overall tennis, it is very obvious that the top three players continue to be Griffith, Daniel and Julian “Michael Jackson” White, with Curtis Jones a distant fourth.
The young, talented players such as Dario Hinds, Darius “Baracus” Gaskin and Emar Edwards will need to improve their game tactically if they want a break at the top three.
Road tennis is not only about pretty looking shots and being stylish, but about change of service, being able to adapt to your opponent’s style, and consistency. Not spoiling too many balls is paramount in becoming a champion.
A number of pundits and analysts have asked how good is Griffith. I think he is one of the top ten players of all time. The likes of Anthony “Limp” Richardson, “Tiny” Jordan, White, Daniel, and “JB” Barrow will also be featured in my top ten.
I will let the analysts and pundits select their top ten, lest I be accused of showing bias.
Let me also give special kudos to the women.
Kim Holder proved once again that she is the true queen of the court. Winning the top prize of $15 000 is a great achievement.
Losing finalist Sheldene Waldron is also a very exciting player, along with the youthful Racquel Smith. Veteran player Susan Scantlebury continues to show that age is just a number, as she once again reached the semi-final round.
However, I would like to see more young women getting involved in road tennis from the primary school level up. Road tennis can keep you very fit and healthy and if you become a champion like Holder, you can achieve good financial rewards and prestige.
I am appealing to all of the road tennis entities to join in unison for the good of the game. It’s our indigenous sport. There is no need to argue and quarrel, please sit together. Let’s take the game forward.
So the Barbados Road Tennis Association, the World Association and PRTA must be more positive and proactive, which will surely enhance the future development of the game.
I would like to implore the PRTA to include a masters tournament in their future plans. It would be nice to see the former champions in action.
To former champions – White and Daniel – well done. You have shown over the years you are pure class. Special kudos to Griffith and his management.
On a personal note, I continue my recuperation with God’s blessings and the support my family and friends.
• Keith “Grell” Griffith, BSS, is a former national football player and former road tennis champion.