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Tariq Simons recovers to keep hold of No 1 ranking

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Tariq Simons helped himself to an early birthday gift after retaining his MTM Singles Championships title and No 1 national ranking at the Fairmont Southampton yesterday.

The defending champion and top seed, who turns 20 next month, came from a set down to prevail 6-7, 6-3, 6-2 over Daniel Phillips in the best-of-three sets final.

“It’s very satisfying to have won considering that this tournament had a lot of weight on it because my No 1 spot was on the line,” Simons said.

“Any little ups and downs in the wrong area could have led to me not only losing the No 1 spot, but maybe dropping down to a rather unfavourable place in the rankings. So I’m glad to prove once again that I am where I belong.”

Simons struggled with his serve and committed several errors during the opening set in breezy conditions.

Still, he battled on and clawed his way back from a deficit to force a tie-break, which Phillips ultimately won 7-4 to seize early control of the final.

“I definitely put a few errors in there but he [Phillips] was playing very well,” Simons said. “He was serving well, hitting his forehand as well as I’ve ever seen him hit it.

“He was being effective and although I was able to slow him down a little bit, it wasn’t enough to take the first set from him in the tie-break.”

Tariq Simons in action in the A final against Daniel Phillips (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

With his title and No 1 ranking hanging in the balance, Simons had no margin for error heading into the second set.

Daniel Phillips returns against Tariq Simons in the A final (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The 19-year-old shifted into high gear and won the first three games to take a commanding lead and then withstood a late rally from Phillips to win the second set.

This set the stage the stage for an exciting third and deciding set, which Simons won even more convincingly to clinch a sixth title and retain his status as the island’s No 1 player.

“That’s when fitness became a massive factor and I was able to hold my mind steady, think clearly and make good decisions and come out on top of most of the points,” said Simons, who clinched the title with a powerful backhand volley.

Meanwhile, Charles Boisvert won the B final with a convincing 6-4, 6-3 win over Jovan Whitter.

Charles Boisvert won the B final against Jovan Whitter (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Phillips won the Under-16 boys title after prevailing 6-2, 6-1 over Vincent Boisvert.

Zach McGuire defeated Sebastian Pukke 7-6, 7-5 in the Under-14 boys final, while Annika Wriedt defeated Sienna Outrim 6-3, 6-2 in the Under-14 girls final.

Wriedt also defeated Outrim 6-3, 6-7, 10-6 in the Under-12 girls final, while Jaden Jones prevailed 6-3, 6-1 against Tristan Petit in the Under-12 boys final.

Annika Wriedt won both the girls’ under-14 and under-12 titles against Sienna Outrim (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Gavin Manders, the tournament and MTM director, summed up the event as an overwhelming success despite of the inclement weather.

“It was a successful week and everyone was extremely happy,” he said.

“All of these players are the future of Bermuda tennis, and the rivalries are going to be going on for a long time.”

Manders added: “The MTM movement is all about promoting the sport and not only allowing the top players to get out, but promoting physical and mental health.

“This event is more for us to deliver a safe event for all these guys to get out and compete, but also promote and help with everyone’s physical and mental health while we work through this difficult time. And we pride ourselves on being able to deliver safe competition during a time that there’s no other sports going on.

“To start off 2021 with a lot of divisions allowing everyone to come out and be able get physically active and start the year off on a positive note is just a tremendous accomplishment for us.”

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Published January 11, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated January 10, 2021 at 9:24 pm)

Tariq Simons recovers to keep hold of No 1 ranking

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