Elana Mackey upsets Clarke for ladies’ title

As of Wednesday, December 28, 2022

#WITH her college roommate as her lucky charm on the sideline cheering her on, Elana Mackey stunned defending champion Sydney Clarke to capture her first Giorgio Baldacci Open Nationals women’s title.

#In the rematch of last year’s final of the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association’s week-long tournament at the National Tennis Centre, Mackey prevailed with an impressive 6-2, 7-5 triumph over Clarke on Thursday.

#“In school, I go to every home game they have, and it worked every time,” said Mackey’s Mars Hill University’s roommate Alina Mueller from Germany, who is visiting the Bahamas for the first time. “Whenever I’m there, she wins. I guess this was just the match she on because I’m here.”

#Mackey said Mueller has been an inspiration because “I haven’t lost a match since she came out to watch at school.”

#With Mueller here in the Bahamas, Mackey was sensational when it counted the most in her final against Clarke, who has held the advantage over the head-to-head encounters in the past.

#In the first set, Mackey went up a break 3-0 before Clarke finally got on the scoreboard as she held serve at 3-1. Mackey broke again for a 5-1 lead, but refusing to give up, Clarke got the break back to extend the set.

#But after breaking to go up 5-2, Mackey held serve and clinched the first set.

#They came back in the second and Clarke did the same to Mackey to go up 3-0. Mackey would then break for a 3-2 deficit before Clarke got another break to surge ahead 4-2. Both players broke each other, but Mackey went on to cut the deficit to 5-4 on a break.

#Mackey would then hold serve for a 5-5, break Clarke for the final time to go up 6-5 and served out the game, set and match.

#“I had a plan and I followed it. I was able to execute it very well,” said Mackey, who noted that she “tried to be more consistent and hit most of my balls deep because she was short, and she would have problems hitting the high shots.”

#It worked.

#“I’ve been training really hard for this tournament in the fall at school, so I’m not surprised by the outcome,” said a jubilant Mackey, who got her usual support from her proud father Patrick Mackey on the sidelines.For Clarke, it wasn’t what she expected in the results, but she admitted that she’s the only one to blame for her lacklustre performance as she made too many costly errors.

#“She (Mackey) played well and took advantage of the opportunities when I wasn’t playing at my best,” said Clarke, who is in the middle of her junior year at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “So, I just have to go back to the drawing board and get ready for a lot of matches when I go back to school. “I just had too many errors today that caused me the match. I did my best, but it wasn’t 100 percent.”

#Clarke commended Mackey for her performance. “She was very locked in, and she took advantage of every moment when I fell down, especially in the second set when I was up,” Clarke reflected. “She just snagged back in, so congratulations to her. She did very well.”

#Mackey said her and roommate Mueller will celebrate this weekend and also attend the junkanoo celebrations before they head back to school on January 5.

#BLTA president Perry Newton said it was good to see the rivalry continue between Clarke and Mackey. “They have been playing against each other for almost all of their lives,” Newton said.

#“To see the two of them back at it again, was just amazing. They will get to represent the country again.”

#As a result of their 1-2 finish, Mackey and Clarke will be named to the Bahamas team for the Billie Jean King Cup, formerly Fed Cup for ladies.

#The rest of the team, according to Newton, will be decided at another trial a month before the team travel next year.

#During the award presentation at the end of the tournament, Caila Moss was presented with the Sportswoman of the Tournament.

#The awards were presented by Newton and Antonio Saunders, the director of marketing at Fidelity, the sponsors of the tournament, along with RMS Insurance Agents & Brokers.


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