Sports

Newton optimistic about national teams in 2022

Based on the results from the 2021 Giorgio Baldacci Open National Championships at the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association’s (BLTA) National Tennis Centre this week, The Bahamas is set to form strong regional teams in tennis in 2022 as the national teams are beginning to take shape.

The top two players from the Giorgio Baldacci nationals, in both genders, automatically qualify for the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup regional events in 2022.

In the men’s tournament, Spencer Newman came out on top and veteran Marvin Rolle was the runner-up. Spencer’s brother Baker Newman was third and collegiate athlete Donte Armbrister finished fourth. There are others who could enter the mix such as 2019 National Champion Kevin “KJ” Major Jr., Phillip Major Jr., and Justin Roberts just to name a few – all looking to represent The Bahamas in Davis Cup play in 2022.

On the women’s side, Sydney Clarke came out on top. Fellow collegiate athlete Elana Mackey was the runner-up and Sierra Donaldson finished third. Still out there are athletes such as 2019 National Champion Kerrie Cartwright, Larikah Russell and Simone Pratt just to name a few.

“It’s a good problem to have. The top two from the nationals are in and traditionally we would have another tournament to pick the other two spots on both teams but that event is contingent on when the Davis Cup and Billie Jean Cup events will be held,” said BLTA President Perry Newton. “I’m very optimistic that we will field very strong teams in 2022,” he added.

On the men’s side, Spencer Newman won in straight sets over Rolle, 6-3 and 6-3. Spencer’s brother Baker defeated Armbrister in the third place match, 6-2 and 6-3.

“I feel like we have the players to put together a very strong Davis Cup team,” said Spencer Newman. “There are about five to six very good players out there, so I feel like we could definitely get a good team out of that.”

His younger brother Baker concurred.

“I think there are some very good players in The Bahamas and I’m confident that we will have a strong team for Davis Cup next year,” he said.

Baker, a three-time National Champion, was actually leading Spencer in their semifinal match, 1-6, 7-6(5) and 5-2, but was forced to withdraw because of a sore back. He said it was his first time withdrawing from a match but went home, got some rest and came back and won the third-place match on Thursday. He defeated Donte Armbrister in that match, 6-2 and 6-3.

“It’s good to see Spencer on top. He worked hard and he deserved to win,” said Baker.

Armbrister, the youngest of the quartet, at just 20 years old, said he is hopeful that he is named to the Davis Cup team next year and gets an opportunity to represent The Bahamas. The Hampton University sophomore business management major, said he would have liked to win the national title, thereby earning his spot on the Davis Cup team for 2022 but it just wasn’t to be this time around.

“I’m happy with my results,” he said. “I believe that I played well. It’s just that I played a very tough opponent and he got the better of me. My serve needs to get a li’l better. I need to be able to control points with my serve. Once I’m able to do that, I would become a better player. Also, I need to brush up on my volleys and points at the net. I believe I’m improving every day and I’m looking forward to what 2022 has to offer.”

Baker Newman is 26 years old, brother Spencer is 28 and veteran Rolle is 38.

Tournament Director Steve Taylor said it was a challenge getting the courts ready for play each day of the nationals, particularly with the disruption and hinderance of rain.

“It was a li’l tedious but we were able to get it done. One of the main things was making sure that the courts were prepared and ready for play each day. The nets had to be at the right height, there had to be water for the players and chairs for them to sit in among other things,” he said. “There were challenges throughout, particularly with the rain disrupting play and soaking up the courts. We had to come and dry four to five courts every morning and get them ready for play but, in the end, we were able to get it done and we had a great tournament.”

In Americas Zone III Davis Cup play in 2021, The Bahamas lost in the crossover playoffs to Jamaica, failing to advance to Zone II for 2022. They will play in Zone III again in 2022.

In Billie Jean Cup play in 2021, The Bahamas finished third in the Americas Zone Group II and failed to advance to Zone I for 2022. They will play in Zone II again in 2022.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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