By BRENT STUBBS
It’s not how you start, nor how you get there. Most importantly, it’s how you finish
• The Finish Line, a weekly column, seeks to comment on the state of affairs in local sports, highlighting the highs and the lows, the thrills and the spills and the successes and failures.
The Week That Was
I liked what I saw at the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association’s trials for the men’s 2016 Davis Cup trials over the weekend at the National Tennis Centre as the team prepares to travel to Bolivia July 11-16.
While there was a concerted effort to get all of the top collegiate players home to vie for the final two spots, the numbers were not what organisers had anticipated. They even went as far as to include Donte Armbrister, one of the top junior players in the country.
But the absence of some of the collegiate players in no way diminished the level of competition that was exhibited over the three days of competition.
When it was all said and done, it was the changing of the guard as the 21-year-old Kevin Major Jr prevailed in a three and-a-half hour marathon match over 32-year-old Marvin Rolle.
It was definitely one of the performances for the ages as the duo battled it out point for point in a match that was played before a sparse crowd of spectators.
And even though they both clinched their berth on the team by virtue of playing in the final, neither wanted to leave with the bragging rights as was in the case in the past when some of the more notable players like Mark Knowles, Roger Smith, John Farrington and Mark Merklein participated.
The final score in the match was 5-7, 7-6 (11-9), 6-4, but who was really keeping tabs as Major Jr and Rolle gutted it out point after point. It was one of those matches that you hoped would not have ended since it lasted that long.
In the final analysis, Major Jr and Rolle will join brothers Spencer and Baker Newman, who had a classic sibling duo in the final of the Giorgio Baldacci Tennis Tournament in December at the NTC.
The Newman brothers grew up in Coral Gables, Florida, and played college tennis at the (Spencer) University of Florida and (Baker) Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee respectively. They come at a time when the BLTA could use a lift to get out of Zone III and return to Zone II.
The Newman brothers came to town in December and left their impact on the local tennis community. Now, we wait to see how they will put it all together with the veteran leadership of Rolle and the young vibrancy of Major Jr.
The Bahamas will be a part of the field that includes Bermuda, host Bolivia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago.
The teams will be placed in two pools with the winner of Pool A playing against the runner-up of Pool B and the winner of Pool B playing the runner-up of Pool A to determine which two nations will advance to Americas Zone Group II in 2017.
The good thing is there will be no relegation for the remaining teams so the worse the Bahamas can do is to remain in Zone III for 2017. But there are high expectations for this team to advance to Zone II.
As he welcomes the Newman brothers to the team that he feels will more than likely be captained by Rolle once again, BLTA president Elwood Donaldson is confident that the team will get the job done
A TALENT TO
Just as the world was grasping for air and reflecting on the loss of Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxer I’ve ever seen in action, we got the news of the passing of Kevin ‘Kimbo Slice’ Ferguson.
The 42-year-old mixed martial artist was a native out of Step Street, Fox Hill, who moved to the United States with his parents as a youngster.
He went on to play high school football and had a promising college career, but got derailed by the social ills and managed to bounce back in the sport of boxing where he went undefeated.
From there, Ferguson was encouraged to compete in MMA and he continued to be a smashing success. On January 16, 2015, nearly five years since his last MMA fight, Bellator MMA announced that Frguson had signed a multi-fight deal. He went on to defeat Ken Shamrock by first-round TKO in his June 19 debut at Bellator 138.
On February 19, 2016, at Bellator 149, Ferguson faced Dada 5000. The duo had a big rivalry between them due to their old street fight legacies they had in Perrine, Florida. After a back and forth fight, Ferguson won the fight via TKO when Dada collapsed from apparent exhaustion in the third round. Following the bout it was reported that Slice had failed his pre-fight drug test. Lab results found traces of the anabolic steroid Nandrolone.
In April, Bellator president Scott Coker announced on ESPN’s SportsCenter that Ferguson would have a rematch against James Thompson in the main event of Bellator 158 which would have taken place on July 16 at London’s O2 Arena. Ferguson, however, died before this fight could happen.
The Tribune, whose news department got a chance to interact with “Kimbo Slice” on his success when he came home and stopped into the office to do an interview, offers condolences to his family, including his six children.
May his soul rest in peace.