AFTER stunning title favourite Vaughn Wilson a couple days earlier, Kobe James must have been expecting to run away with the title in the OMADA Centre—GSM Tennis Open Invitational Top 8 Tournament Thursday at Shaw Park, Tobago.

But the former national under-16 and 18 champion was made to work very hard to get past tournament organiser Dunstan De Noon 5-7, 6-4, 10/6 in the final.

After his 4-6, 6-0, 10/5 triumph over former two-time national champ Wilson, James whipped 2017 national under-12 champ Nicholas Ready 6-0, 6-2 and was a 6-3, 6-4 winner over reigning national under-18 champ Alijah Leslie to advance to the title match.

De Noon, a respected junior in the 1990s, was in the much easier group in the second round-robin stage, and the leading coach disposed of juniors Christopher Roberts (6-1, 7-6), Thomas Chung (6-3, 6-3) and Luca De Noon (6-1, 6-2).

Luca, the under-14 nephew of Dunstan, had topped his group in the first round and he saved his best for last as he took the first set from Leslie when going down 4-6, 6-2, 10/0 in their clash for fifth place.

Wilson won the battle of the group runners-up 6-1, 6-2 over Roberts for the bronze medal, while Ready avoided the cellar position by brushing aside Chung 6-2, 6-1 for seventh place.

The 16-year-old Roberts and Luca were voted Most Improved Players in the first tournament in the twin island republic since the sport was shut down in the middle of March because of the coronavirus (Covid-19).

And all “Covid” safety guidelines laid down by the International Tennis Federation and Tennis Association of Trinidad and Tobago, including no handshakes, were observed. It was the second competition in this series, coming eight months after the first.

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