Daniel, Griffith batter opponents to reach final
It was a surprise that a police patrol unit was not dispatched to the Villages at Coverley last night.
The security guards who were on hand, along with the thousands of spectators, could do nothing but watch on, as Antoine “Lil Man” Daniel staged a vicious and relentless attack on Curtis Jones on his way to qualifying for the finals of the Massy United Insurance Clash of the Titans road tennis competition.
Whether Daniel possesses a gun license or not is unknown, but that did not stop him from spraying “shots” around at will, as he dispatched the ball to all parts of the court, past a bemused Jones.
In just 45 minutes, he blasted Jones off the court in straight sets, 21-14, 21-19, 21-10, which earned him a standing ovation.
His opponent in Sunday’s final will be none other than arch-rival, Mark “Venom” Griffith, who qualified after sending the “World Boss,” Julian “Michael Jackson” White, on pre-retirement leave.
While not as entertaining or exciting as Daniel, his 21-16, 21-12, 21-16 straight sets win over White was almost as dominant, as he controlled the contest from start to finish.
And while Griffith has proven he is one of the sport’s best defenders, the attacking display put on by Daniel would no doubt have caught his attention.
It marked the second successive occasion on which Jones had been eliminated by Daniel at the semi-final stage, after also losing 3-0 in the recently concluded Monarchs of the Court competition.
Unlike then though, when he was competitive for most of the match, Jones did not stand a chance this time around.
From a close 10-10 deadlock in the opening set, Daniel took complete control of the contest.
Jones’s superb effort to return his opponent’s injection only resulted in him watching on as the ball was whipped effortlessly past him. That shot was quickly followed by two more extravagant, forehand passes down the line which took the score to 14-11.
One of the most spectacular points of the night came with Daniel leading 16-12. Jones was dared by his opponent to smash the ball past him, with Daniel purposely looping the ball high into the air.
However, after two half-hearted smashes by Jones, Daniel impressively slammed his return, leaving an awestruck Jones standing in the middle of the court as the ball whizzed by.
He then wrapped up the set by giving Jones another injection, which he failed to get to this time around despite a valiant attempt.
The ensuing set was a lot closer, with Jones actually holding a slender 18-17 lead, after a brief four-minute stoppage due to rain.
Using his serve, Daniel won the next three points, before a frustrated Jones sent his service return into the net to close out the set.
Clearly in control now, Daniel sent his opponent’s racquet flying out of his hand, as he tried to return a blazing forehand shot in the opening moments of the third set.
A brilliant crosscourt winner soon followed, which helped him to rush out to a 10-3 lead.
With the score at 14-5, Jones served a low ball to Daniel’s forehand, only to watch in amazement as he smashed it straight down the line, bringing the crowd to its feet.
He repeated the shot to make it 20-8, as Jones could only shake his head in disbelief.
Daniel then opted to let him out of the “sow,” purposely hitting the ball into the net with the score at 20-9.
His sensational performance prompted a former great, Keith Griffith, to describe it as “sweeter than a sno-cone,” before asking the crowd to stand and applaud Daniel.
In the nightcap, Griffith’s supremacy over White was somewhat shocking, as most spectators expected an evenly contested match.
That never materialized though, with Griffith’s consistency and superior fitness level, thwarting every attempt by White.
The number one seed turned a close 8-6 scoreline in the opening set into a comfortable 17-13 lead, as he forced White into the unusual role of attacking.
It was not to say Griffith did not attack at times, as was evident when he stroked a beautiful forehand shot past his opponent to carry the score to 20-14.
White was guilty of uncharacteristically committing numerous unforced errors, as he tried in vain to penetrate Griffith’s stubborn defense.
After battling back from 6-12 in the second set to get within two at 12-14, seven straight errors from White easily gifted Griffith the set.
Another brief rain stoppage only delayed the inevitable, despite a brave effort from White who rallied from 11-18 to 16-18 in the decisive set.
He would not win another point, however, as Griffith raised his hand in triumph when his opponent sent his backhand wide.
Dario Hinds advanced to the finals of the juniors competition, where he will meet Darius “Barracus” Gaskin.
Hinds destroyed Emar Edwards 21-11, 21-11, while Gaskin had a hard fought 21-13, 16-21, 21-11 victory over Keon Murrell.