St Michael, St Thomas rule court
St Michael predictably won their sixth “A” class title and St Thomas earned their second when the National Sports Council Inter-Parish Road Tennis Tournament climaxed on Saturday night in the Christ Church Foundation School Hall.
The deadly duo of Antonio “Lil Man” Daniel and Mark “Venom” Griffith were clinical in defeating Davien “Force Ripe” Taylor and Aaron Barker of St Thomas respectively in a night-cap face-off which was marred by annoying interruptions as the organisers sought to use television replays to sort out contentious calls.
With seven such breaks, some lasting as long as six minutes during live televised matches, it became almost farcical with the replays showing that the officials had made the correct or incorrect calls but being forced to ignore the displayed facts and replay the point because of the unamended rules. Normally, varying calls from the lines person and the chair official lead to a replay of the point.
The cocky Taylor looked fired up to challenge Daniel in attack, but with tremendous placement and smoking smashes mixed with deadly drop shots, Daniel took the contest 21-13, 21-18. Ironically, Taylor fought back in the second game after trailing 1-6, 6-12 and 13-17.
With Daniel holding game and match point 20-16, he offered hope to his opponent in a bid to end the game with a flourish as he committed a number of simple errors for Taylor to rally to 18 before losing the battle.
His partner Aaron Barker, in his customary sartorial splendour, brought an attacking game to Griffith who is more prone to defence. However, Griffith was equally resplendent in his dress and superior in play to win 21-19, 21-12.
Barker had looked a serious threat in the first game where he locked the scores at eight and then from 14 up to 18. However, the confusion over the use of the replay and the resulting evidence frustrated Barker as he was on the losing end of all of the challenges. Griffith and Daniel erased their semi-finals loss in 2015 to win $10 500 while Barker and Taylor won $5 000.
Former national volleyballer Gregory “Coach” Gill and Rickey “Body Doc” Hoyte repeated St Thomas’ 2013 Masters’ title when Hoyte had partnered with Charles Taylor. Gill showed great forehand and backhand control as he seized the advantage by defeating Terry Dottin 21-19, 25-23.
Dottin, who is reputed to have the best backhand in road tennis, showed that was not an idle boast. However, Gill tactically kept the ball in Dottin’s forehand, forcing him to make feeble returns of desperation smashes into the net or out of court.
Facing defeat, St George needed Kirkman Harewood, the consummate chopper, to stop retired traffic cop Hoyte. Harewood offered early hope with one of his “doosras” which spun and deviated, beating a shocked Hoyte for the first point. But, with grim determination, Hoyte battled strong, and mixing his trademark smashes and Kodak poses with resolute defence, Hoyte took the match.
The second game was a keen battle with a ten-minute delay to sort out a replay, adding to the tension at 19-19. Harewood then held game point 20-19 with the scores deducing from 20 to 23. When Hoyte held game and match point 23-22, Harewood shifted him with a shot through the former officer’s forehand where he would have given himself a ticket for speeding down the wrong way.
Two points later Hoyte raised his exhausted arms in triumph and broke a tired face in celebration as he and Gill embraced the victory and the title.
Early in the night, Ellerslie student Shaquan Henry reinforced that he was the best 14-18 schoolboy in the island, as he won a keen battle from Barbados Community College student Ezekiel “Ezee” Ward 22-24, 21-12, 21-18. Ward unbelievably threw away the contest in the third game from a 17-14 lead where he won just one more point. (KB)