Simons looks to continue winning streak
Tariq Simons will look to tighten his grip as Bermuda's No 1 tennis player when the weeklong MTM Covid Open starts at the Fairmont Southampton tomorrow.
Simons enhanced his growing reputation with a 6-4, 7-5 win over his coach and mentor Gavin Manders, the island's former No 1, at the MTM Covid Championships this month.
The 19-year-old will likely need to beat Manders to land a third local title of the year, however he insists there is no awkwardness between the pair on court.
“I see Gavin and Jevon [Whitter, another MTM coach] every day at training and the relationship is different, as I hang around them all of the time and they have prepared me for these tournaments,” said Simons, who also won the MTM Singles Championships this year.
“This is the place [Bermuda's No 1] I'm meant to be and it's nice that I'm matching up to my coaches' expectations.”
Simons, who plans to attend the University of Saint Katherine in San Marcos, California, in January, benefited from a slice of good fortune during the Covid-19 lockdown.
“I was really fortunate as I have a cousin who plays tennis, Kirsten Saltus, who is also a No 1 in Bermuda; she has a court within half a mile of my house,” he added. “I never really stopped playing tennis throughout lockdown.”
While Manders, the principle of MTM, is proud of the strides Simons is making, he said he fully intends to avenge his defeat in the final of the Championships should the sorcerer and his apprentice meet at the Open.
“Tariq has taken in everything we have been doing with him and applying it,” Manders said.
“I'm proud as his coach and mentor and from an MTM perspective, it lets us know that we're doing what we're supposed to be doing.
“Rather than being awkward, it's kind of special to be battling with the player I'm coaching to take the top spot from me.
“I have no problem from switching from each hat: coaching and playing — although I'm still confident of going out there and getting the victory.”
Manders added that he hopes the tournament can build on the success of the Covid-19 Championships — the first sporting event to take place since the novel coronavirus brought Bermuda to a virtual halt.
Eighty-two players have signed up for Open, which will include under-12 and under-14, under-16 and under-18 junior divisions and a green-ball competition.