AFTER they both got eliminated the day before in their singles, Bahamian Justin Roberts and his close friend and long-time partner Jody Maginley from Antigua and Barbuda stayed alive in the men’s doubles in the Legacy Bank NWA Tennis Series.
Unseeded in the tournament being played in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Roberts and Maginley pulled off a 7-6 (6), 6-3 upset win over the No.2 seeds Boris Arias from Bolivia and Ricardo Rodriquez from Venezuela in their first round match yesterday.
“It was good. It was good doubles. We served well and we returned well,” Roberts said after the match. “We could have probably vollied better, but it was a good match.”
They will now face the American duo of Justin Butsch and Alex Rybakov in today’s quarter-finals.
“It’s another good team. They were two good players in college. I think Butsch is a doubles specialist and Rybakov is more of a singles player, but he’s good in doubles also. I know Rybakov well. It’s going to be another good doubles match. We have to come prepared to play.”
Roberts and Maginley are back in action after taking a break for the coronavirus pandemic in March. The duo played in four tournaments as a team up to that point. In their last tournament on March 2, they got ousted in the round of 16 by the American combo of Hunter Johnson and Yates Johnson at the M16 Tournament in Las Vegas.
Roberts, 23, advanced to the final playoff spot in the men’s singles draw, only to lose out to Blaise Bicknell, the No.15 seed from Jamaica in two straight sets 6-1 and 6-4 on Tuesday. On Monday, Roberts advanced to the playoff spot with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Bulgaria’s Ivailo Keremedchiev.
It was Roberts’ second straight tournament as he returned to action after the stoppage for the coronavirus pandemic in March and a slight calf injury that had him sidelined for a bit over the summer.
Last week, Roberts got eliminated by Edwin King in the men’s singles in the quarter-finals in Austin, Texas.
“I didn’t think I played as well as I should in the two tournaments, but I have to go through it,” he said. “I’ve been off for about eight months, so it was just good to be back out there playing again.
“It’s just a matter of time before I get back into the full stream of things.”
With all of the safety measures in place due to COVID-19, Roberts said it is mandatory for everyone to wear their masks at all times when they are walking around the tennis centre.
He also noted that they have to get tested for the coronavirus to ensure that they are eligible to play.
“It’s not that. It’s good tennis. It’s the same rules on the court, just have these safety measures that we have to adhere to off the court,” Roberts said. “It’s all about ensuring that we stay safe in this environment.”
As for his performance, Roberts said there’s not much he needs to work on.
“I think I’ve been doing all of the things that I need to do to get myself prepared,” he stressed.
“But I’ve always been a player who doesn’t always play well coming off a break.
“It normally takes a while for me to start playing my best tennis, so it’s just going to take time. I’m normally not a person who just jumps right out of the gate, so I just have to keep playing.”
As a six-foot and 188-pound right handed hitter, Roberts is currently ranked at No.796 in the world in singles. He and Maginley are scheduled to travel to the Dominican Republic to play in two tournaments starting on November 30 before they shut down their season for the year.
Roberts was hoping to come home and participate in the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association’s annual Georgio Baldacci Open at the National Tennis Centre, but that event may not be played because of the restrictions in place due to COVID-19.
The tournament is used by the BLTA to determine the players being considered for selection to the Davis Cup team.
Roberts, by virtue of having the highest international ranking, was automatically named to the team this year.
The Davis Cup competition, the highest form of play for players representing their country outside of the Olympic Games, was called off due to COVID-19. It’s not known when they will play in 2021. Roberts played three seasons for the University of South Florida before he transferred nd graduated from Arizona State last year.