After knocking off collegian Donte Armbrister in a three-set thriller, high school sensation Michael Major Jr didn’t have anything left in the tank as he went down in two straight sets to number one seed Kevin Major Jr.
With a couple players opting out of competition, Major Jr was the only player to have to play a pair of matches yesterday as the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association kicked off the 2022 Giorgio Baldacci Open Nationals at the National Tennis Centre.
The Open Nationals is the first step for the BLTA to select the team that will represent the Bahamas at the Davis Cup competition for men and the Billie Jean King Cup for women.
Major Jr, coming off a trip to Jamaica to play in a series of matches over the weekend, pulled off a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 win over Armbrister, who is home on a break from college. But in his later match, he suffered a 6-1, 6-0 defeat at the hands of Major Jr.
Major Jr, back in the Open Nationals for the first time since he won the title in 2019, said while he had a lot of injuries, he found a new lease of life in the tennis world in Tampa, Florida, and he’s now back on the tour, having played in Colombia, Mexico and Bolivia as he learns how to be a professional tennis player on the circuit.
“It’s bitter-sweet because I haven’t won in a while and there’s a lot of background pressure for me to win,” said the 27-year-old Major Jr. “This is something I always wanted to win. I always want to win at home. I love playing in front of the Bahamian people. “I’m looking forward to playing all of the guys in the tournament. The younger guys have blood in their eyes, but I just want them to know that I’m ready to take on any and all of them.”
Before being the first player to lose to Major Jr in his return to the NTC, Michael Major Jr said he was delighted to have played such an amazing match.
“I went out there with the mindset that if I have to be on the court all day, I will be on the court all day,” he said. “I’m happy that I pulled it off. Donte is a good player, He’s already been on the Davis Cup team, so I’m glad that I pulled this off.”
For 21-year-old Armbrister, who is playing tennis at Hampton University, he said it was good to be back home.
“He played good in the first set, and I was able to bounce back in the second set,” Armbrister said.
“In the third, I started off shaky holding serve, but I was able to rally back. He just wanted it a little more than me.”
Number three seed Marvin Rolle, who never won the event, but played in two finals in 2013 (losing to Devin Mullings) and last year (to Spencer Newman), returned and also had to go to a third set before he won 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) over Philip Major Jr, the runner-up when the tournament was first held in 2012.
Rolle said as they were preparing for the tournament, they were hoping that they would have played some of the younger guys, but they also joked about the possibility of facing each other instead.
“PJ is an experienced player. He’s been on the Davis Cup team, so I expected it would be a good match,” Rolle said. “Credit to him. It’s unfortunate that we played each other in the first round. But if I could do as well as I did against him, I feel I can play well against anybody out here.”
Rolle, the veteran Davis Cupper as a player and captain, said at the age of 39, it’s surprising that he can perform as well as he’s doing.
“I’m just out there to have some fun,” said Rolle, who is about 10 years older than most of the players in the tournament.
“I love the game. I love beating these guys. I was hoping to play MJ, but maybe next time. I was getting ready to play guys like him.”
For Major Jr, who made his return as well after a three-year hiatus, it was a moral victory in his defeat.
“To play Marvin Rolle in the first round and to lose in three sets says a whole lot for me,” said Major Jr, who is now the director of tennis at Atlantis.
“I feel pretty motivated to continue and if there’s another trials, I think I will be in better shape, playing a lot more matches.
“But it was a lot of emotions out there, having not played in any competitive matches in three years. In the end for me, I felt like I won.”
In two other matches played, Grand Bahamian Denali Nottage won 6-3, 6-1 over Sharano Hanna.
Meanwhile, Dentry Mortimer pulled off a 6-0, 6-0 win over Cailan Bowe.
Jacobi Bain won by walk/over against Baker Newman.
Anthony Burrows won by W/O over Rudy Williams.
And Rodney Carey got a W/O over Jody Turnquest.
“My match was good. I was just trying to find my rhythm,” Nottage said.
“I’m excited every year they have it. I was looking forward to playing some of the older guys because I’m no longer a junior, so I have to prepare myself to play these guys.”
The tournament is scheduled to continue today at 9am.