Road tennis competitors put on a stunning show
While Antoine “Lil Man” Daniel sizzled, Aaron Barker fizzled. Mark “Venom” Griffith almost bit himself and Julian “Michael Jackson” White came close to joining the iconic pop star six-feet under.
Last night’s Massy United Insurance Clash of the Titans quarter-final matches at the Villages at Coverley had all the makings of a spectacular movie. The only thing missing was the popcorn.
Despite falling just short, the herculean efforts of promising juniors Emar Edwards and Dario Hinds stole the spotlight on a night of high quality and at times unbelievable road tennis.
The 19-year old Hinds probably would not have slept a wink last night, after throwing away a commanding six point lead in the decisive set against the third ranked White, losing 14-21, 21-14, 17-21 in a heartbreaker.
Edwards, a 1- year-old student of Combermere, shockingly wasted five set points against Griffith, the defending champion and number one seed, before going down 26-28, 20-22 in a heart wrenching defeat.
Curtis Jones and the stylish Antoine “Lil Man” Daniel did not waste any time in disposing of their opponents though, ensuring that the top four seeds stayed true to form.
Jones, the number four seed, was a comfortable 21-16, 21-10 winner over Aaron Barker, while the second seeded Daniel in his usual flamboyant style, whipped David Arendell 21-19, 21-13.
Hinds seemed on the verge of avenging his defeat to White in last year’s competition, when his impressive play propelled him to a 13-7 lead in the third and decisive set, with the games locked at 1-1.
But drawing on all of his experience, a determined White astonishingly battled back to win the next seven points and mute Hinds’ vocal supporters.
That included a superb forehand crosscourt winner, which locked the scores at 13-13, and was followed by an equally sublime forehand down the line which gave him his first lead of the game.
Hinds did not give up though, as he fought back to regain the lead at 16-15, only to play a wild forehand shot which drew ire and criticism from the hundreds of spectators who by now had flocked to every available vantage point.
From thereon, it was all one-way traffic, as a resurgent White blitzed two more passing forehand shots past his opponent.
He finished off the match in grand style too, twice returning three of Hinds’ tired-looking smashes, the first of which forced Hinds to drop his racquet in disbelief.
“If you check through my whole career, I play better when I am down than when I’m up. At one point I was telling myself that I couldn’t go down so, I got to put up a fight,” a relieved White told Barbados Today after his victory.
“But you can’t take anything away from Dario. The youngster is playing very well and you have to give him credit for what he did,” he humbly added.
A disappointed Hinds, a student at the Barbados Community College, blamed his downfall on his lack of condition.
And despite his superb play, was visibly upset with himself for losing the match.
“All I could say is that I got very tired. I got very, very tired and my legs weren’t working anymore.
“I don’t really feel good about my performance. It wasn’t a good enough effort on my part. I could have put on more balls. I wasn’t good enough,” Hinds explained.
His performance followed that of Edwards, who battled back from big deficits in both games, only to stumble at the final hurdle.
Trailing 12-18 in the opening set, he fought back to lock the scores at 19 and then again at 20.
He led 21-20 after winning a 24-ball rally, only to send his forehand shot long to deuce the game again.
In fact he had three more chances to win the first set, as he also led 22-21, 24-23, and 26-25. However not even the advice from Daniel could steer him to victory, with Griffith eventually closing out the set.
The second set was a replica of the first, as Griffith once more seemed in sight of an easy victory, holding a comfortable 17-12 lead.
But once again, he became complacent, allowing his opponent to catch him and assume a 20-19 lead.
Once again, Edwards could not get over that final bump, with Griffith reeling off three consecutive points to march into tomorrow night’s semi-finals.