Written by Kimberly Cummins
Perhaps fitting after their match, Brucelee Almightee “Mauby” strains reverberated at Wildey Gymnasium, as teenager Shakeem Nurse ripped the bark of Dario “Rick Flair” Hinds last night to secure his place in the Barbados Road Tennis final. Open Championship. Almost tragically, chest pains prematurely ended Julian “Michael Jackson” White’s faltering attempt to reach the final after being completely dominated by Mark “Venom” Griffith.
Now, she will face Nurse Griffith in the men’s final and will face Kim Holder Sheldon Waldron for women’s supremacy in Saturday’s final at Wildey Gymnasium. If last night’s brilliant semi-final match is going to pass, it is clear that no player will give their opponent the first prize of $20,000 on a plate.
The nurse for example, despite being only 17 years old, noted his seriousness and authority with a landslide straight-set 3-set victory over Hinds. The first match only lasted ten minutes and Hinds didn’t show much flair as he struggled to defend against Nurse’s aggressive attacks. One fine shot followed by another of the teenager fired a huge crowd and left Hinds visibly shaken as he trailed 11-4.
Hinds tried to regain his composure through many good exchanges and good gathering but he kept finding the net often. And although he tried to do several shots, it wasn’t enough to separate the teenager. You could see the tension etched into Hinds’ face as the pig’s thoughts were clear. This couldn’t be avoided, and to the delight of the cheering fans, Nurse sent Hinds into the pig pit with a 21-7 hit.
The second game proved the same for the nurse. He looked completely relaxed again and despite a few easy mistakes that added to the Hinds’ credits, Nurse was fast on his feet and steadily increased his progress. Just when Hinds thought he could get some reprieve, the nurse executed an impressive rear-arm drive that proved to be the final nail in Hinds’ coffin (21-11). In Game 3, Hinds came back with some good shots on his own and took a 7-6 lead. The two exchanged some good exchanges in attack and defense, but an injection from the nurse left Hinds faltering and the first equalized at 10. It’s practically over. Hinds kept falling apart and no amount of advice from his coach and drying racket could help as the Nurse earned five points in a row and took it home at 21-11.
In the match between Griffith and White, White never looked like his iconic character that would have led him to win over 52 titles over the years. Griffith started strong and led early 11-7. White played a nice short ball that surprised Griffith, however, and it wasn’t enough as Griffith increased his lead by nine points (17-8). At this point White was starting to slow down noticeably and something was clearly wrong as Griffith won 21-9.
When things seemed to change for the Whites, who took a 5-3 lead in the second game, the 54-year-old couldn’t maintain consistency. He struggled, constantly bending over or sitting up trying to catch his breath. There were some good gatherings between the two but White left him trailing 7-12. Griffith threw some nice shots in his hind arm which White couldn’t respond to, and won that match 21-14. What was supposed to be the best of three out of five matches ended abruptly as Wyatt retired in apparent annoyance while tapping his chest.
It wasn’t an easy path for the top-ranked champion Holder as Rachel Smith played well – including forcing a demon – and had her work hard to secure her 2-1 spot. Although Holder came off the favourite after beating Smith more than nine times on previous occasions, Smith made an early lead (5-2) in a show of confidence. But with so many good rallies, that gap started to narrow as Holder won all five of her serve points. However, Smith did not give up at any point as the two exchanged leads several times.
The crowd cheered as Holder cheered, and with the help of an involuntary foul by Smith, Holder’s lead increased to 16-11. Through a number of flexible strategy strokes, Smith was able to slack before scoring 20 points as the excitement in the crowd increased. It was a Ding Dong fight and Smith was tough on her challenge but in the end the match went to Holder 25-23. Smith came back in Game Two and won in a close encounter, 21-19, while Holder came back to take Game 3 at 21-16.
Waldron was going relatively bun against the Maudlin Planet, winning 21-12, 21-17 and 21 11.