Simons impresses on international stage
Tariq Simons continued his impressive start to the new season by being crowned the winner of the Rankine International Tournament at Half Moon Resort, Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Having kicked off his campaign in scintillating style by defeating mentor and one of the island's top players Gavin Manders, in a three-set epic to win the MTM Championships in January, the 19-year-old built on that momentum to add another title to his collection.
After easing through the opening two rounds in straight sets against Mario Campbell and Davian Burell receptively, Simons was pitted against experienced Jamaican international player Marcus Malcolm in the final.
There, he was forced to come from behind, losing the first set 5-7, before showing great determination and mental strength to battle back winning the second set 6-4, and the all important final deciding set 10-6 to ultimately prevail.
“When I was invited out to Jamaica I knew there was a possibility that I could win the tournament, but I certainly didn't expect it,” said Simons, who has aspirations of turning professional.
“I knew the final would be difficult. Marcus is an experienced player and he tried to get in my head throughout the match. However, I managed to come out on top and it was a bit of a milestone victory for me.
“It was a big deal for me personally, Gavin [Manders] told me he expected me to go out and win the tournament and so it's always great to be able to prove to yourself that you can.
“It's also a big personal confidence boost. It's great to start the year on a positive note, hopefully I can keep it going.”
Reflecting further on the final, Simons spoke of his delight at upsetting the odds in beating the more established player as his athletic and prominently defensive “pusher” playing style, which is built around wearing his opponent down, again paid dividends in grinding out the result.
“I relish facing the more experienced players and proving the ability of the younger guys coming through,” added Simons, who spoke of seizing on the turning point in the championship match with Malcolm.
“I was especially pleased to come from a set down because it shows that I have that mental strength and resilience.
“There was a little point where he showed a little bit of weakness and I had to go for it.
“There's little signs of emotion where I could tell that he had started to drop and was getting a little nervous and so I just seized on it.
“I'm constantly trying to add to my game.
“It's built around grinding out games, but I'm always trying to improve it and add some more weapons.”
Turning his attention to the future, Simons will be hoping to build on his winning momentum at the MTM Doubles Bowl event at the Fairmont Southampton Tennis Club, starting tomorrow, while also setting his sights on Davis Cup action for Bermuda and a host of events in the United States.
“I'm hoping to play in a number of low-level professional tournaments in the United States in the coming months,” he added.
“They attract players similar to myself as well as former professionals so it should be a good level for me.
“I also want to make strides in the Davis Cup and build up my ATP points to help build towards getting a ranking.”