Andrews starts strong in RTC Championship

It was a strong start for Jason Andrews who defeated Leroy Chapman in two sets in the first match of the Rebel Tennis Club (RTC) Championship at Harry’s Court.

Kijana Lewis (left) and Adesh Khayyam
Kijana Lewis (left) and Adesh Khayyam

Andrews claimed the match 6-0, 6-2 on the back of some strong serves which ensured his dominance during the clash.
He started strong and served up the first bagel in the first set 6-0. The second set saw more fight from the onset from Chapman. A stubborn period from Chapman placed him back on serve at 2-3, but the tactical moves of Andrews were superior.
In a post-match comment, Andrews stated that he knew his opponent’s level of tennis to be higher than it was. He was able to close the set at 6-2 to set up a challenge against Jamal Goodluck in the Round of 16.
Meanwhile, Grace McCalman secured her match against Tracy Shamsudeen. An even first set led to four-all as both players’ serves were put to the test. McCalman had targeted the backhand of her opponent which created an opening. However, failure to anticipate the short balls at the net created the pressure. She held her serve and knuckled down to face Shamsudeen’s serve. She earned two set points and with a cracking forehand at an acute angle, she produced a winner that snagged the inner sideline awarding her the first set.
A focused McCalman’s serve was put to the test once again in the second set, but she was able to hold and break serve after a carefully placed forehand up the line drew an unforced error from her opponent. “Yes,” exhaled McCalman in a sigh of relief, gaining the 2-love advantage.
Shamsudeen shifted her game strategy to an attack base game which earned her a game off McCalman’s serve. Both players produced entertaining points, but it was smooth sailing at 6-1 in the second set for McCalman.
The most promising match of the day was the David versus Goliath match fought by junior Adesh Khayyam and Kijana Lewis. With an impressive start by Lewis – 40-15 on serve, young Khayyam battled back to break and take a 4-1 lead. Lewis held his serve and avoided a further deficit. A poor service game by Khayyam left the door ajar and Lewis seized the moment, but a quick refocus earned Khayyam a 5-2 lead and serve for the match. He was unable to close out and allowed Lewis to creep into a rhythm. At 5-4, he had another chance to serve it out.
At 30-all, an error of a volley from Lewis gifted the junior a set point. A backhand error into the net levelled things again at deuce. Lewis consolidated and broke. Looking more comfortable and hitting freely, he jumped ahead for the first time in the set, securing it at 6-5.  A different Lewis appeared in the second set and wasted no time in closing 6-0 in the second set.
The most exciting match of the 2017 tennis season was played by Devon Gonsalves and Dominic Fraser. The first-time player Gonsalves raced quickly to a 6-1 first set win. Fraser settled down and reduced the high errors and low per cent of first serves, producing a more tempered game. He edged to a 5-3 lead and a chance to serve to throw the game into sudden death. During the back-and-forth battle, he earned two set points but the grit from Gonsalves was unexpected and he fought back with ease to then lead 6-5; however,  a shaky service game levelled the games and set a tiebreaker. Gonsalves took a 3-0 lead, but was unable to sustain the momentum and on the fourth set point, Fraser clinched the tiebreaker at 7-5.
The third set was decided by a super tiebreaker.  Again, Gonsalves raced to the lead at 6-2. Fraser slowly crept back and at 9-9, he produced a big serve when needed but eventually closed the match after his third match point at 15-13. Gonsalves also had four match points and took the loss in good stride. He felt good about his first tournament experience as he had  expected to play more nervously.  The tournament has become part of the Guyana Tennis Association (GLTA) calendar and as stated at the opening ceremony,’ competition and friends of tennis like, Harry Panday will lead to a better tennis level’. Discipline was also highlighted as a component which will be taken seriously.