Earl aims for tops

When the national darts team heads
to the Bahamas in a few weeks, much of the focus will be on the male talent on
the squad.

Nine male players are part of the
Cayman team that will compete in the 2010 Caribbean Championships 20-31 August
in Abaco, Bahamas. They are: Adrian Mannouch, Eddie Ballantyne, Cliff Weeks,
Earl Smith, Paul Anglin, Richard Campbell, Mel Tagalog, Edsell Haylock and Arek
Archibold (who is also a junior player).

Joining the men are five female
players in Michelle Cullen, Miriam Rodriguez, Linda Locke, newcomer Tiffany
Laurie and Irma Smith (who is a reserve for the team, taking Michelle Terry’s
spot due to injury). All will receive guidance from team manager Arthur Ebanks,
head coach Anthony ‘Tony’ Archibold and assistant coaches Cassius Anglin and
Hank Ebanks.

Most of the male throwers are
established names on the local scene. In fact Tony Archibold states that his
expectations centre on Smith, who won the most singles matches in qualifying
fixtures for the national team.

“Since marrying a Caymanian and
getting status Earl has played on the Cayman team the last few years,”
Archibold said. “He’s been generating some good darts lately I must say. Then
again he has always been on a high level. He already won a Caribbean
championship on more than one occasion with his native Bahamas. He’s always
sharp up there.”

Smith stated he does not feel extra
burden when the squad leaves 19 August. 
“There’s no pressure, I think it’s fun. I practiced the last couple
weeks everyday and I prepared myself mentally to play. It’s ok. Anytime with a
big tournament when I represent I want to represent to the best of my
abilities. A lot of guys think they have to win. I play the board and I’m
taking the mentality I have here to the competition.”

Outside of Smith focus falls on
reigning singles champion Haylock, who became the latest Caribbean champ two
years ago in Trinidad. Archibold feels a bulls-eye is on the West Bayer’s back.

“Edsell is going back to defend his
title but it won’t be easy. Other countries are gunning for him now as they
have potential in the singles game. I’ve been hearing guys playing up to a high
level, finishing games in 15 darts or less.”

Pressure to perform is not squarely
on Haylock and Smith as the experienced duo have plenty of support in Weeks and
Mannouch. Weeks has been solid in the local tournaments while Mannouch has
racked up high scores in the local league. With both in good form over the last
24 months Archibold feels Cayman can continue to boast a Caribbean champion
into 2012.

“In 2008 I was the team manager for
Cayman in Trinidad and that was a classic team. With this side we will close
the gap even more. There is more of an edge with the players we have now. These
guys played very close games leading up to the tournament. I think with Cliff,
Adrian and Earl there is the potential to have the next singles champion.
Between those three guys I’m really looking forward to Cayman making a big
impact.”

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