Gavin Manders aiming to beat top seed Tariq Simons to another title
Gavin Manders is looking to follow up his MTM Masters title win over David Thomas in the recent end of year tournament with another good showing when he battles against No. 1 seed Tariq Simons in the MTM Singles Championship, which started this week at the Fairmont Southampton courts.
In the tournament involving the top ten players, Manders beat another veteran player, David Thomas, 7-6, 6-1 to win the masters title on Boxing Day. The first set lasted an hour and a half as Thomas hung on in tough conditions.
“The first set was long with 30 knot winds with gusts of 40 down there so the quality wasn’t like what we played before,” Manders said of the final, which saw Thomas coming back off hip surgery.
Manders, now 35 and four years older than Thomas, enjoyed the match-up, as the two veterans battled it out for the final title of the year.
David defeated Simons, in the semi-final to reach his first final in approximately five years.
“Where I am in my career, it could be my last final and it could be his last final,” said Manders, who recalls playing his first title match against Thomas over ten years ago.
Manders dedicated his victory to the memory of Osagi Bascome, who was due to play in a football-tennis tournament that was planned by MTM for last month and was called off because of Bascome’s murder.
“I had the Bascome family in my mind obviously, with all that going on,” he said. “I grew up watching my dad [Arnold Manders] playing cricket with Herbie [Bascome] and I had them in my thoughts.
“That final was definitely for the St George’s community and the Bascome family; sending them some positives. For Dave and I, we had a special moment in the final, he put himself in position to win another title but ran into me who had been there many times myself and was able to deal with the elements a bit better on the day.”
Manders added: “We were college roommates, I stood at his wedding and with Tre [Mallory] and Tariq [Simons] playing such a high level of tennis, it didn’t go over our heads that it could be the last one.
“I had Osagi in my thoughts and a good friend of mine on the other side of the court who has been through stuff in his life. Osagi and his cousin were supposed to play in the football-tennis event that we cancelled.”
The MTM Singles Championships will have early season ranking at stake, with Simons the top singles seed ahead of Manders, Scott Redmond and Chris Weeks.
Mallory has opted to train this week before returning to college in North Carolina to prepare for the start of the season this month. Thomas will also miss the event as he recovers from a gruelling last tournament.
“Whoever wins this tournament automatically becomes the number one player in Bermuda,” Manders explained. “Whoever takes the title for the A Division will hold the number one spot.”
The A Division final is set for Sunday while there will also be competition in the Elite B Division, and the 12, 14 and 16 and under divisions, where rankings will also be determined for 2022.