COLLEGIANS Sydney Clarke and Elana Mackey, the top seeded players, led the charge for the ladies during day one of the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association’s Giorgio Baldacci Open Nationals at the National Tennis Centre yesterday.
Top seed Clarke, a senior at the University of Arlington at Birmingham, pulled of a hard fought 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win over Simone Pratt, while Mackey, the No.2 seed, easily secured a 6-0, 6-0 triumph over Saphirre Ferguson.
Today in the semifinals of the tournament, Clarke will be back in action when she faces Breann Ferguson, who won 7-5, 6-1 over Caila Bowe and Mackey goes up against Grand Bahamian Jalisa Clarke, who earned her berth with 6-2, 6-0 win over Genesis Missick.
From the tournament, the BLTA will take the first step to selecting the team to represent the Bahamas at the Billie Jean King Cup for ladies and the Davis Cup for the men for 2023.
In what turned out to be the toughest match played on the ladies’ side, Clarke said she was thrilled by the way she came through in the end.
“I’m very happy with the way I played,” Clarke said. “I didn’t panic. I just went out there mentally to get the job done. When I was down and when I was up, I just kept my composure. I knew I had to press the gas and move on.”
In facing Ferguson, Clarke said she’s looking forward to playing her.
“With this tournament, it’s just me believing in myself,” said Clarke, the defending champion of the tournament. “I’ve been playing this for so long so once I believe in myself I will be alright.”
Ferguson, a 14-year-old home-schooled student, said it was a tough match against Bowe and she felt she could have played a lot better.
“The first set, I was shaky and then I was able to close it out. In the second set, I got my rhythm back and I was able to pull it off,” Ferguson said. “I’m looking to playing Sydney Clarke and to see how well I can play against her.”
Pratt, who won the initial Open Nationals in 2012, said it was a good match for her to get her feet wet.
“I wished I could have won so I could play a little more matches,” said the 26-year-old Pratt, who hopes that she still gets a chance to make the Billie Jean King Cup team. “I haven’t played in a competitive match in a long time, so I just wanted to have fun.”
In a rematch with Ferguson in last year’s tournament when she won 6-1, 6-0, Mackey said she was prepared for the showdown, although she hasn’t played any match in college as yet as the season won’t start until February.
“Last time I was a bit nervous, but I was looking forward to it,” said Mackey, who is also competing on their cross country and track team.
“I was looking for more women coming out and participating like Kerrie Cartwright and even Larikah Russell, but they are not participating.”
Jalisa Clarke, a 15-year-old ninth grader at Sunland Baptist Academy, said she felt she could have played better, but because she hasn’t played in a little while, she didn’t know what to expect coming into the tournament.
“I will just go out and play my best,” said Clarke about taking on Mackey.
The action is set to begin at 9am today.