One day after enduring his longest match ever to book his ticket to the finals, a well-rested Denali Nottage got his shortest time on the court to hoist the 2022 Giorgio Baldacci Open National Championships.
In what he anticipated to be an early present for his 19th birthday on Saturday, Nottage, fully regrouped from his three-set thriller over fellow Grand Bahamian Rodney Carey Jr on Wednesday, only played one game against Kevin Major Jr before he was crowned the new champion.
The 27-year-old Major Jr, who clinched his berth in a two-game sweep over veteran Marvin Rolle on Wednesday, broke Nottage in the first game in their final yesterday before he forfeited the rest of the match. Major Jr said he had informed the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association Wednesday night that he would not be able to compete in the final but was advised that it was in his best interest to participate.
“I came because they insisted, but I had to get back to work,” said Major Jr, a personal tennis trainer and coach.
“I’m getting older, and I have to take care of the bills. “I love playing tennis and representing the country, but it comes to a point where it has to be financially sound for me. This tournament is not offering me any incentives as a professional tennis player.”
By virtue of being in the final, Major Jr said he fulfilled his commitment to make the men’s team for Davis Cup, so while he didn’t get to complete his match, he earned his spot.
Nottage, however, said he understands Major Jr’s dilemma, but it wasn’t the outcome that he was hoping for. “I celebrated that I won the tournament after playing so hard in the semifinals,” said Nottage, who in his debut in the tournament last year got eliminated in the quarterfinals.
“It’s okay though. I understand that the life of this sport is not what you always expect it to be, so you have to get used to it.”
Coming in from the Bill Adams Tennis Academy in Pembroke Pines, Florida, Nottage said he performed at his best to get into the final and all he wanted to do was to prove himself against the best players in the island nation.
“I know I still have more work to do, so whenever they have the next one, I hope to come out and still give it a shot to compete against these guys,” said Nottage, who has now earned his first spot on the Davis Cup team.
“It’s not the celebrations that I wanted, but I will celebrate anyway. I won the title and that is something that can’t change, no matter what they say about the outcome.
“I earned the right to be here, and I was ready to play for it, but I didn’t get the chance to complete the match,” Nottage told The Tribune.
BLTA president Perry Newton said their executive team will review the circumstances that led to Major Jr not completing the match.
And they will make a determination on the way forward. “In sports these things happen,” he pointed out. “I don’t have the details or the full extent to his claims or whatever it is. Hopefully, he will be in a position to compete for the Bahamas when the Davis Cup team is selected.
“But we’re happy to see Denali come through as the champion. We’ve been watching him, and we saw a lot of talent from him.
“I remember when he played KJ before and lost in the team trials, so we were looking forward to see how well he would play him today.”
Newton confirmed that the top two players from the tournament are automatically selected to the team, but because of the situation that developed with Major Jr, they will have to review all of the circumstances before a final decision is made on the rest of the team that will be selected at a final trial at least a month before the team travels.
Carey Jr was named the Sportsman of the Tournament during the award presentation that was done by Newton and Antonio Saunders, the director of marketing at Fidelity, the co-sponsors of the tournament, along with RMS Insurance Agents & Brokers.