Vaughn Wilson

NEW CHAMP: Vaughn Wilson whips a forehand during his 6-1, 6-0 demolition of Nabeel Mohammed in Monday’s men’s semi-finals at the Shell Tranquillity Open Tennis Tornament. Yesterday, the No.6 seed defeated his countryman Akiel Duke, the defending champion, to claim his first men’s single title at the clay court tournament.

—Photo: ISHMAEL SALANDY

VAUGHN WILSON finally struck gold in singles for the first time in the Tranquillity Open Tennis Tournament when the 2020 edition of the Shell-sponsored competition continued yesterday at club’s courts, Victoria Avenue, Port of Spain.

The 28-year-old, playing singles for the first time in the last three editions, dethroned defending champion Akiel Duke 7-5, 6-2 in an-all Tobago clash in 94 minutes for the $5,000 winners’ cheque.

Wilson certainly did not expected to take so long to claim his first title in the country’s leading clay-court tournament, especially since he first reached the final ten years ago.

That title match was also an all-Tobago affair and after losing to defending champ Yohansey Williams, he had to settle for the silver medal five years later against Richard Chung.

The second-seeded Duke played his fourth singles final in succession at the venue yesterday and suffered his third defeat.

The left-handed 27-year-old has been contesting singles finals on a regular basis in the last five years, but his only major title came here in two years ago when he edged Chung in three sets.

Already trailing by a break of serve, Duke gave himself a shot at stealing the first set when he came back from love-40 and eventually saved seven set points in a marathon game to force Wilson to serve for it at 5-4.

The No. 6 seed proceeded to make three quick-fire unforced errors and it was five-all in a flash.

But Wilson, who had stunned top-seeded national champ Nabeel Mohammed 6-1, 6-0 the day before in the semifinals, is known for his mental toughness and he bounced back quickly to take the next two games and draw first blood.

The quality of play was also high in the second set, but the only scare that the time the two-time national champ received when he faced break point serving for the match with a two-break lead at 5-2. Wilson, whose entry form was misplaced in 2018 when he won the doubles crown with Mohammed, erased it with a second-serve ace and hit another untouchable serve on match point.

Yesterday was the fifth consecutive day of play in the tournament since it resumed after being halted half-way through because of Coronavirus (Covid-19) on March 15.

Carlista Mohammed, who won the women’s and mixed doubles titles with Cameron Wong and Nabeel just before the shutdown, completed the Triple Crown on Monday by beating 15-year-old Ella Carrington 7-5, 6-3 for her fifth singles trophy.

The veterans’ (over-45) and senior veterans’ (over-60 events) will resume from Friday and the tournament should conclude on Sunday.

The 2021 edition of the tournament, which has been going on for more than a century, is expected to get going on schedule late next month.

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