UNSEEDED players Ibrahim Mohammed and Brandon Gregiore were among the six players who qualified last Sunday for the men’s singles main draw of the BG T&T Tranquillity Open Tennis Tournament at the club’s courts, Victoria Avenue, Port of Spain.
The youngsters joined Michael Clarke, Harry Mahase, Kristyan Valentine, McColin Fontenelle and the ten players automatically chosen in the main draw, which will get going next week Sunday.
After beating sixth-seeded Michael Cooper when the qualifying draw served off the day before, Gregoire halted No. 4 seed Ronald Robinson 7-5, 7-5 to advance.
Mohammed was one of three players from the original field of 45 who won three times over the course of the two days. The Under-18 player, who had upset the No. 9 seed in his first match, saved the best for last when he scored a commanding 6-1, 6-3 victory over Nkrumah Patrick, the conqueror of No. 3 seed Andy Boyce the day before.
After not dropping a single game from his two matches on Saturday, sixth-seeded St Lucian Fontenelle, one of the most talented players of the last two decades, was in cruise control again as he overwhelmed prominent Aaron Soo Ping Chow 6-0, 6-2.
Valentine also won three times, but after surrendering just one game from two first-to-four matches on Saturday, the No. 5 seed laboured for over two hours to get by Jerome Branker 7-5, 1-6, 6-2 in his qualifying match.
The 11th-seeded Branker, who completed studies in the United States a few months ago, was competing at home for the first time in about five years.
Clarke was also returning from a similar layoff, in addition to the fact that he only picked up a racquet for the first time in over two years a week earlier. But the top-seeded 24-year-old is a former Davis Cup player and after he saved a match point to win his first match the day before, he looked much more comfortable as he cruised past Gianluc Robinson 6-2, 6-2.
Eighth-seeded Tobagonian Kryel Trim fought gallantly, but did not have the stamina to match Mahase and the No. 2 seed, who has been going strong since the 1970s, prevailed 6-4, 6-3.
His son Dexter, a former Davis Cup player who returned after an absence of over five years and reached the semi-finals of the South Open last month, is among the ten automatically placed in the main draw.
Another is Mohammed’s younger brother Nabeel, the national under-16 and 18 champ.
The tournament will officially serve off Sunday with doubles and veterans’ (over-45) events, and the men’s and women’s singles draws will get going a week later.