Bermuda’s under-14 team dug deep before going down 2-1 to top seeded Honduras in their final Group A match in the WJT Boys North/Central American and Caribbean Pre-qualifying Tournament in the Dominican Republic yesterday.
After wins over Aruba and Suriname, the stage was set for a top-of-the-group clash with Honduras as Bermuda, seeded 7th, went into the match full of confidence. Diego Sosa beat Antonio Warner 6-3, 6-2 to give Honduras the early lead.
However, Mackai Whitter kept his composure to beat Guillermo Bennaton 7-6, 4-6, 6-0 in a three-hour match to tie the score at 1-1. Whitter was then back on the court to partner Warner for the deciding doubles match. The physical demands took its toll on Whitter as opponents Bennaton and Antonio Chavez maintained control to win in straight sets 6-3, 6-2 for the overall win.
Romar Douglas, the Bermuda coach, praised the Bermuda youngsters for their spirited fight against Honduras, after winning their first two wins of the tournament.
“Bermuda played extraordinarily well against the number one seeds,” Douglas said. “Mackai won a nail-biting match, Antonio fought hard and battled long but lost 6-3, 6-2 in his singles match. Bermuda’s team is working hard and the development has improved considerably to be close to the region’s No 1 seeds.”
Despite the loss, Bermuda finished second in their group and have advanced to the main draw, where they will play fifth seeded Costa Rica, winners of group C. Honduras will take on Trinidad and Tobago, the No 4 seeds, who finished second behind Costa Rica.
“This was definitely a team victory the first two days,” Douglas said, referring to the wins over Aruba and Suriname.
“The boys came together nicely as a team and stepped up both days. They supported each other all the way to the end and because of that the results have shown.
“As a team that doesn’t have much overseas experience, the way they have handled the pressure over the three days has been remarkable. Aruba was a tough task on Monday and against Suriname, not a team that was lower, the boys just played better.”
He added: “It shows that international play brings the best out of the athletes. Even me as a first-time coach, I was nervous, nervous when we were going out on the court and nervous yesterday [against Aruba] when we were one-all and 4-2 down in the doubles. I can imagine what the boys were feeling, but regardless of what they were feeling they rose to the occasion.”