Records tumble at finals; Downes, Gentle crowned

GBTI Independence Golden Jubilee Open …

By Delvon McEwan

An epic night of tennis ended in favour of Anthony Downes and Afruica Gentle who won the men’s and women’s open title respectively as the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry Independence Golden Jubilee tournament closed on Thursday night at the GBTI Recreation Centre, Bel-Air Park courts.

Number one seed and five year defending champion, Anthony Downes, defeated second seed Daniel Lopes 6-1 6-2 to win a record sixth title in the men’s open. On the other side, Gentle became the youngest women’s champion in the history of the sport locally when she defeated three time champion Nicola Ramdyhan 6-4, 6-1.

In the men’s encounter Downes started well by taking the first point of the match. Serving at 0-1, Lopes immediately evened the score by holding serve to 1-1. However, it was Downes who dominated the set with his fast pace serves and consistent groundstroke. These drew several unforced errors from Lopes who appeared to hold his ground in the rallies but failed to sustain a momentum to close with a winning point. Daniel’s fate dimmed as the number one seed whisked away five successive games to claim the set at 6-1.

From the onset of the second set, Lopes was explicitly frustrated as he tried to grapple with the grave errors he was making on the court. Meanwhile, Downes maintained his thunderous commitment to each point and sprung to 4-0. At this point, there was a surprise shift in the course of the match as enormous encouragement from spectators showered on Lopes, clearly enabling him to secure service to pop a game on the score board. Serving at 4-1, Downes again held serve to 5-1. Lopes managed to hold serve at 5-2 with the hope of setting the match to a third set. But the number one seed further cemented his place in Guyana’s tennis history as the undefeated GBTI Men’s Open Singles king by brushing Lopes aside at 6-2, thereby securing the match at 6-1, 6-2.

Downes is no stranger to tennis, as he has been dominating local men’s tennis throughout the years in virtually every category he enters. This year, he created a potent team with the young powerhouse Afruica Gentle to easily take the Mixed Open Doubles title from crowd favorites and defending champions Daniel Lopes/Aretta Dey allowing only two games to slip by to their opponents at 6-1, 6-1.

The history of tennis in Guyana took another twist with Afruica Gentle stamping her name as the youngest Ladies Open Singles champion in the open tournament that spanned two weeks. Her rival, former three- time winner Nicola Ramdyhan, brought vigor to the first set. Gentle won the toss and granted Ramdyhan the opportunity to serve. Gentle broke Ramdyhan’s serve to lead at 1-0. Ramdyhan responded by breaking Gentle’s serve twice and holding serve to enjoy a 3-1 gallop over her opponent. Serving down 1-3, Gentle succeeded in not just leveling the score at 3-3, but surpassed Ramdyhan to dominate at 4-3. Randyhan noted that her relaxed attitude attributed to losing the lead during the set. She went on to hold serve level the set at 4-4. Unfortunately for Ramdyhan, Gentle’s passion for the set was clearly more than hers. Constantly correcting herself aloud and staying focused on the game, Gentle broke and held serve to seize the first set at a close 6-4.

Gentle predominantly commanded the second set. Known for her powerful strokes, she exemplified her trademark by playing with a high degree of consistency to dash to a 4-0 rise over Ramdyhan. The defending champion then unleashed some of her own venom to break Gentle’s serve and appear on the scoreboard at 1-4. Her efforts, though commendable, were proven futile as Gentle relentlessly persevered to 6-1 to grab the coveted title as the queen of Ladies Open Singles at 6-4, 6-1 dethroning Ramdyhan.