Both players are celebrating their first senior national championships
For the first time in their young careers, Denali Nottage and Elana Mackey are senior national tennis champions of The Bahamas. They lifted the men and women’s national titles at the Giorgio Baldacci Open National Championships yesterday.
Nottage and Mackey won the titles on the final day of competition that began on Monday at the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association’s (BLTA) National Tennis Centre.
Nottage went up against Kevin Major Jr. in the men’s final and Mackey went up against the defending champion Sydney Clarke on the women’s side.
Nottage hardly broke a sweat as Major retired after winning the first game of the first set.
“I feel good. It wasn’t the way I wanted to win, but a win is a win,” said Nottage. “Mentally, I was ready because we played at the last one and he came out on top so I was looking forward to seeking revenge this time.”
Nottage said he is looking forward to making his debut with Major at the 2023 Davis Cup – something that he calls a big accomplishment. The top two finishers in each gender assured themselves of spots on next year’s Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup teams for The Bahamas.
It was much more competitive on the women’s side as Mackey earned a hard fought win. She won in straight sets, 6-3 and 7-5.
“It feels good because I was training for this tournament the whole fall season while I was at college. I had a plan and I was able to execute it. I felt like I played more free today and I played with confidence like I wasn’t nervous or anything,” Mackey said. “My plan was to jump on her from the first set. I didn’t want to start late because I am normally a late starter like it takes me long to warm up. Today, I felt like I did a good job of just going for my shots and playing.”
Clarke said that her serve was not working in the match and she made too much errors.
“I made a lot of errors today and my serve broke down,” Clarke said. “I had my chances, and my opportunities, but I was in and out and eventually my serve broke down and I think that’s what cost me the match. Mackey took the opportunities she had, especially when I made errors. She cleaned up her game which allowed her to pull out the win.”
After Mackey won the first set, Clarke won the first three games of the second set and it looked like she was on the verge of taking the match to a third set. Mackey showed resilience and composure as she was able to tie the second set 3-3.
“Clarke is good. I know that she wasn’t going to give up after the first set. I know that in order to beat her I just had to stay focused and just believe in the plan that I had,” Mackey said.
Mackey went on to win the second set 7-5.
Mackey and Clarke will now team up for the Billie Jean King Cup tournament set for next year. They along with two other players will represent The Bahamas. The names of the other two members of the team will be released at a later date.
Mackey is at Mars Hill University, playing collegiately. She is getting ready for her school’s spring season, set to commence in February. Clarke is at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and will also be playing next spring.
Rodney Carey Jr. finished third on the men’s side. He also won the sportsmanship award. Jalisa Clarke finished third on the women’s side. Calia Bowe won the sportsmanship award on the women’s side.
An invitational is expected to be held in 2023 to fill the remaining spots on the teams.
The tournament was sponsored by RMS Insurance Agents and Brokers and Fidelity Bank and Trust.