THE MAIN COURSE of the Barbados Public Workers Cooperative Credit Union’s Monarchs Of The Court road tennis finals did not satisfy the expectations of the thousands who filled the Flow venue at Wildey.
However, the superb Mark “Venom” Griffith brushing aside of Antonio “Lil Man” Daniel in three sets to claim a $60 000 car and $3 000, while the undisputed queen Kim Holder crushing Sheldene Walrond in straight games to take home $15 000 maintained the standard of players’ rewards long established by the visionary Dale Clarke and the Professional Road Tennis Association (PRTA).
Furthermore, the matches between the sponsors’ two champions – Kamil Small and Vanburn Chadderton – the clashes between Shaquon Henry and Christopher Sandiford, Amego Jordan and Tyrese Holder, as well as Solange Holford and Tiffany Garner, displayed a high level of skills between the older combatants and also the youthful students of the game.
Victories for Small, Jordan, Henry and Holford did not detract from the attractive play by their opponents, which provided a filling appetiser even for those people who came primarily for the main course.
However, the biggest winners proved to be tennis, as well as the sponsors, who were bold enough to make such attractive prizes available for road tennis.
The PRTA should be applauded for maintaining a level of operation which makes all competitors run swiftly to try to match strides.
The setback of the Dash Valley venue being no-balled spurred the PRTA to switch to the arena in Wildey, where tennis of the highest order was provided for patrons who now believe that paying $20 to watch the indigenous game is appropriate. The overflowing VIP area on the night of the finals also demonstrated that $50 is a worthy ask.
While the officiating showed improvement, something must be done about the role of the chair official, who seemed to announce only the score and make decisions when players challenged linespersons’ calls. Cricket already has the silly rule where a palpable edge to the keeper is ignored by the umpire if no one appeals. The chair, like in lawn tennis and other sports, must rule.
The issue over the branded PRTA balls seems to be subsiding and it was innovative to use a new ball for every game in the set. The colourful balls also enhanced the beauty of the game for the eyes and the cameras.
That is why the PRTA should ensure that all of its matches are videotaped for posterity and not just wait to capture the finals, which could be a letdown. Case in point was the epic match between Daniel and Julian “Michael Jackson” White in the semis, which was not taped.
The National Basketball Association’s success hinges on the availability of paraphernalia, including tapes of games so that fans can demand and get even Michael Jordan’s debut game for the Bulls.
The PRTA must also look at extensive contracts with the players since, with paying fans, it was in poor taste for matches to be postponed or cancelled due to the non-appearance of players.
Similarly, the next level of professionalism for the PRTA and the players must be where the players receive monies for winning matches.
Daniel would have received $7 000 as the losing finalist, which is a good payday. However, the next step would see Daniel collecting various sums for winning at the 16s, the quarter-finals and the semi-finals.
With that monetary carrot, players who may not be convinced they can topple “Venom” or Holder would still battle hard to reach as far as possible to collect cheques along the way.