Leslie gets better of rival
Gabrielle Leslie has settled the score.
Local tennis’ storybook rivalry just added another chapter after Leslie battled back from two early breaks to upend nemesis Hannah Chambers for the women’s title of the inaugural Barbados Independence Invitational Games on Wednesday night
Facing a 5-2 deficit in the first set, the gritty 14-year-old rattled off four straight games en route to a valiant 7-6(5), 6-3 comeback victory over her adversary at the National Tennis Centre.
It was a surprising swing to a see-saw rivalry that has seen the two talented teens split one title after another in numerous final showdowns.
Chambers seemed certain of going one up this time, though, serving for the first set twice after holding two early breaks for what appeared to be a comfortable 5-2 cushion.
But the wheels fell right off as she missed a series of easy forehands, while Leslie started to tee off on her opponent’s weak second serves.
Such was the turnaround that Chambers ended up serving to stay in the set at 5-6 before engaging in a wild back-and-forth tiebreak.
Leslie then came up with the goods when it mattered most, passing Chambers with a huge forehand crosscourt before closing out the set with an equally big serve out wide.
And things only got worse for Chambers as she immediately handed over the break with a double fault to start the second set.
Leslie quickly capitalised with a couple big serves to hold for 2-0 and maintained that one-break lead for the remainder of the set.
She put the finishing touches on the match by breaking Chambers with a pristine forehand return pass off yet another weak second serve.
Former Davis Cup veteran Russell Moseley had an easier time of it on the men’s side after beating St Lucia’s Akeem Gustave 6-2, 6-2 in the final.
Gustave was not much of a threat, never holding serve in a wayward first set that featured several double faults on his side of the net.
The top-seeded Moseley did lose successive service games at one point, too, but just never look concerned while picking off Gustave’s weak offerings.
Moseley broke for 5-2 with a stunning inside-out backhand winner before serving out the set following a series of long forehands from Gustave.
The seasoned Davis Cup player quickly broke Gustave at love to start the second set to all but decide the match.
Gustave did manage to hold once after coming up with a telling forehand winner down the line.
However, Moseley simply maintained his lead following two huge first serves, including one into the body of Gustave, who was cramped for space. (JM)