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Gaskin stung by ‘Venom’

Last night, Darius “Barracus” Gaskin played one of the best games ever in his short road-tennis career.

Unfortunately for him, it happened to be against Mark “Venom” Griffith.

Gaskin came ever so close to creating what would have been undoubtedly the biggest upset in recent history, but fell just short, as the top ranked Griffith advanced to the quarter-finals of the Massy United Insurance Clash of the Titans road tennis competition at the Villages at Coverley.

Mark “Venom” Griffith is through to the quarterfinals.

Mark “Venom” Griffith is through to the quarterfinals.

The reigning Inter-parish junior champion suffered a heartbreaking loss, going down 21-23, 19-21 to the defending champion, in what were some of the best games of the tournament so far.

Another junior also put in a stellar performance, this time with winning results, as Dario Hinds came from a set down to defeat Kerry “TC” Francis 17-21, 21-16, 21-18, to book his spot in the last eight.

The number four seed, Julian “Michael Jackson” White predictably qualified for the quarter-finals with a straights set 21-13, 21-17 over Shibbir Greenidge.

Emar Edwards didn’t have to win a single point to advance to the next round, as his opponent Chesterfield “Boy Boy” Brewster was unable to play after contracting the dreaded chikungunya virus.

But the night will be remembered mostly for Gaskin’s memorable performance, in which he proved that contrary to popular belief, Griffith is really human after all.

No matter how Griffith tried, he just couldn’t seem to shake off his younger opponent, who showed why he is highly touted as one of the sport’s future stars.

A close opening set saw both players adopt an attacking style, which led to scintillating shots being played around the court.

After trailing for most of that set, Gaskin locked the scores at 13 and then again at 15, as he mixed solid defense with shrewd attack.

A blazing forehand shot past his opponent, followed by an unforced error from Griffith, gave Gaskin an 18-16 lead, resulting in the crowd rising to its feet in anticipation of an upset.

Two unforced errors from Gaskin, though, allowed Griffith to lock the scores at 19 and then again at 20.

Gaskin seemed headed for sure victory when he won the next point, returning a sizzling forehand shot from Griffith, which sent the crowd into a frenzy.

But like the champion he is, Griffith took control, winning three consecutive points to dash his opponent’s hopes.

The second set was almost a carbon copy of the first.

Both players chose to attack rather than wait for his opponent to make a mistake, leading to some exciting rallies and some superb shots.

Once again the scores remained closed, with Gaskin once again locking the score at 13 and then at 16.

However, three straight unforced errors from Gaskin gave Griffith a 19-16 lead, and seemingly an easy victory.

But a late fightback from Gaskin was marred by a controversial call from one of the linesmen.

With the score tied at 19-19, Griffith’s backhand return which landed just outside the court, was ruled in, much to Gaskin’s horror.

And although the point was played over, after the chief umpire ruled the ball had landed out, an evidently flustered Gaskin lost the next two points to lose the game.

Earlier, Hinds showed determination and resilience to defeat the experienced Francis.

After trailing much of the third set, Hinds took his first lead of the game at 17-16, and never looked back, with four unforced errors from Francis gifting him the game.

White was a comfortable winner in the nightcap match, with Greenidge guilty of playing some erratic shots throughout the contest.

And although some did evoke “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd, the ones that crashed into the net and outside the court outnumbered those.

The women’s final will see champion Kim Holder take on Rachel Smith.

Holder advanced after defeating Banks’ Girl finalist, Sherene Ward 21-13 in their semifinal match, while Smith edged out Susan Scantlebury 21-19 to book her spot.

Source: Randy Bennett

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