It doesn’t get better than this.
The methodical and measured Mark “Venom” Griffith, to do battle against the panache and poise of Antonio “Lil Man” Daniel.
Saturday night’s final of the Barbados Public Workers’ Cooperative Credit Union’s Monarch of the Court Road Tennis Tournament at the former BET court, Wildey, St Michael, promises to be a match-up for the ages.
These two are arguably the best in local road tennis with the immense shadow of Julian White frequently hovering over them both.
On Tuesday night Griffith dismissed the pesky Curtis Jones, 21-12, 21-23, 21-8, 21-16, in their semifinal tussle to get a chance at the first prize of a car valued at $60 000. Then on Wednesday night it was crowd favourite Daniel’s turn to rid the tournament of his nemesis White. He dug deep to overcome White in an epic battle, 20-22, 25-23, 17-21, 22-20, 21-13, and gain his berth in the final.
It’s a dream contest. And fans have already placed their wagers on who will take not only the coveted first prize, but also bragging rights as being the best player in the island – many will justifiably argue the world.
So what are the keys to victory?
The confrontation is likely to evolve into one of attrition versus attack. Griffith is no defensive player by any stretch of the imagination. But his tremendous fitness makes him a dangerous customer in any long battle. The longer tomorrow night’s final goes, the better for Griffith. He has no discernible weakness in his game and is perhaps Barbados’ only true professional road tennis player. He will have many betting on him to win.
But anyone who underestimates or writes off Daniel has been living under a rock for too long.
His victory over White on Wednesday night from positions of adversity speaks to a player with intestinal fortitude. Daniel is not going to lose tomorrow night’s final; Griffith has to beat him. That he outlasted White in their semifinal suggested that his midriff is an optical illusion as to the state of his fitness. He might not have the reserve tank of Griffith but he is no slouch.
If Daniel stays true to form he will be his usual attacking self. And if he runs into problems against Griffith, his second and third options will be to attack some more. If his aggressive game is at its optimum Daniel will collect the keys to his new ride perhaps before the game reaches a fifth set.
In women’s action Sheldene Waldron will be taking on Kim Holder in the final. Waldron defeated Rachel Smith 19-21, 21-19, 21-18 in their semifinal on Wednesday, while Holder got the better of Susan Scantlebury 21-15, 21-15 on Tuesday in the semifinal clash.
The women’s final is at 7 p.m. while the men square off at 8.30 p.m.