It will be a rematch between the Newman brothers in the men’s final of the Giorgio Baldacci National Open, while former Fed Cuppers Kerrie Cartwright and Danielle Thompson will meet in the ladies’ draw.
The players all secured their berths in the semi-finals of the main draw of the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association’s weeklong tournament at the National Tennis Centre yesterday.
Defending champion Baker Newman prevailed with a hard fought 5-7, 7-5, 6-1 win over fellow Davis Cupper Philip Major Jr, while runner-up Spencer Newman got by Philip Major Jr 7-5, 6-4.
And as top seed Kerrie Cartwright outlasted Simone Pratt 6-4, 6-3, Danielle Thompson joined her in the final without having to break a sweat as her opponent, veteran Larikah Russell, didn’t show up.
The tournament served as the trials for both the Bahamas’ Davis Cup for men and the Fed Cup for women and by virtue of their performances, all eight players mentioned will be considered for selection by the BLTA.
Newman held off
In what turned out to be the epic match of the semi-final on the men’s side, Major Jr pulled away from a 5-5 tie to break Newman and went on to hold serve for the first set.
In the second set, Major Jr went up 4-1, but he couldn’t close the door as Newman rallied back to force the 5-5 tie and returned the favour to even the score.
As it got a bit dark on court three, officials moved the match to the stadium court under the lights and a rejuvenated Newman pulled away from a 1-1 tie to win the next five games to seal the deal.
“It was a long match. PJ played well. It was my first long match in a long time, so I was happy with the win,” said Newman, who came from a 5-4 deficit in the second set to turn the match around.
“There were some pressure points out there for sure.”
Despite the loss, Major Jr said it was a match filled with a lot of emotions.
“I was up 4-1 and serving at 40-15 and the momentum changed,” he said. “Because I wasn’t playing that much, the rust kicked in the brain more than physically and I paid the price.
“Throughout the rest of the match, I was not mentally engaged. So it is just a part of missing the sport for so long. I’ve been out for about six months. So I’m not upset about how I played. I know I need to put in a lot of physical work and lose a lot of weight.”
As for the final, Baker Newman said he expects that he and Spencer Newman will go to a third and deciding set when they play at 4pm today.
In the meanwhile, Major Jr said he came into the tournament not expecting anything and now he’s back on the Davis Cup team, so he’s thankful for that and he assured the public that he will be ready for the competition next year.
In what was billed as the marquee men’s match, Kevin Major Jr blew a 4-2 lead in the first set and 5-1 in the second as Spencer Newman surged back to pull off the two-set sweep.
“It was next and next the entire time. In the first set, we were back and forth early. I was up a break and then he broke back and so it was good to get the (win),” Newman said.
“Then in the second set, Kevin was up 3-1, but it wasn’t over until it over. I just didn’t give up.”
Back in the final for the third straight year, Newman said he was working hard for this opportunity and, even though he’s facing his brother, he’s not taking anything for granted.
“I don’t look at the match any different no matter who I’m playing,” he said. “I’m coming prepared to play the same way and compete and leave it all on the line and look for the W (win).”
In falling short of getting into the final, Major Jr said he made too many mistakes to hold off Newman.
“Spencer is a very consistent player,” he said. “With my mistakes, it was pretty hard for me to stay ahead in the match.”
But Major Jr said he’s excited that he will be back in the mix for the Davis Cup team and he’s confident that based on the quartet, anyone can play singles and they will be able to hold their own against their opponents.
Prior to the start of the tournament, the build up was about the match-up between WTA ranked Kerrie Cartwright and collegian Simone Pratt as they made their return to playing in the Bahamas again.
Both players didn’t disappoint the fans as they put on a show in their semi-final.
However, after Pratt broke for a 2-2 tie in the first set, Cartwright got the break back to go up 3-2 and she stayed ahead for the win.
Cartwright got a break to open the second set and when she went up 4-1 on another break, it was smooth sailing as she broke again at 5-3 and held serve to wrap up the set and match.
“I think I played pretty good. I fought hard and I played good,” Cartwright said.
Pratt said it was a good match and she felt they both played well.
“It was a good match,” Pratt said. “It was a good experience being back out here after playing some college tennis. I think we will have a great team going into the Fed Cup.”
In the meantime, Cartwright has some unfinished business when she takes on Thompson at 2pm today in the final.
“I love Danielle and I’m excited that she made it to the final too,” Cartwright stressed. “I can’t wait to play her tomorrow. We played a few times since we were juniors, so it will be good to see how we look against each other now.”
Thompson, who got past Russell without playing, said she is looking forward to meeting Cartwright in the final. “I don’t know the last time I played Kerrie, but I’m just going to go out there and give it my all,” she insisted. “I just need to keep my competitive spirit up there and give it my best.”
Thompson, who like Cartwright and Pratt was making her return to the tournament for a break, said she’s excited that the four players who emerged on top have all played together on the Fed Cup team.
• Here’s how they
the main draw:
Baker Newman def. William Fountain 6-1, 6-0; Philip Major Jr. def. Jody Turnquest 6-2, 6-2; Kevin Major Jr. def. Joshua Turnquest 7-5, 6-1, 4-0 retired; Spencer Newman def. Marvin Rolle 6-4, 6-2.
Kerrie Cartwright def. Sierra Donaldson 6-1, 6-0; Simone Pratt def. Sydney Clarke 6-1, 6-2; Larikah Russell def. Afrika Smith 6-0, 6-0 and Danielle Thompson def. Donesha Gibson 6-2, 6-0.