MICHAEL CLARKE just scraped through when he returned to local competition after an absence of over three years yesterday at Tranquillity Club Courts, Victoria Avenue, Port of Spain.
The former Davis Cup player, the top seed in the men’s singles qualifying tournament for the BG T&T Tanquillity Open Tennis Tournament, recovered from a first-set thrashing to nose out former national under-18 champion Dillon Carmino 1-4, 4-1, 5-4 (8/6).
Clarke, who had received a bye in the first round, will tackle Gianluc Robinson today for one of the six qualifying places.
Robinson whipped Karl Woods 4-1, 4-2 in the first round and then cruised past 2012 national Under-14 champion Jelani Davidson 4-2, 4-1 in the battle of promising juniors.
Ronald Robinson (no relation to Gianluc) lost just two games from his two matches yesterday and the No. 4 seed will tackle Brandon Gregoire in the qualifying match today.
After winning his first match by default, Gregoire upset tenth-seeded Michael Cooper 4-2, 4-1.
Like Clarke, Harry Mahase was surprisingly pushed but following a bye, the No. 2 seed defeated Scott Lanser 5-3, 2-4, 4-1 to set up a meeting against Kryel Trim today.
The eighth-seeded Trim was a 4-2, 5-3 winner over Kheron Ward after his first opponent, Christopher Pemberton failed to show.
After whipping Keshan Moonasar 4-2, 4-2, Nkrumah Patrick sealed his place in the final round by stunning third-seeded Andy Boyce 4-1, 5-3.
Patrick’s opponent today is another unseeded junior as Ibrahim Mohammed edged No. 9 seed Kino Francis 4-1, 0-4, 5-3 and then allowed Everest Simon just one game.
Jerome Branker, competing at home for the first time in a few years, also won twice yesterday to earn a meeting with No. 5 seed Kristyan Valentine, who dropped just one game from his two.
Aaron Soo Ping Chow won both his matches in straight sets, but he will be hard-pressed today as St Lucian McColin Fontenelle, one of the most talented players of the last two decades, did not drop a single game from his two matches.
The tournament will officially serve off next week Sunday.
First serve today is 10 a.m.