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Tanaye White Plays Cricket and Road Tennis in Barbados

The SI Swimsuit model excels in a day of popular Bajan sports.

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Barbados is well-known for its dazzling beaches, exceptional culinary offerings and the friendliness of its people. But during her visit on the island, SI Swimsuit model Tanaye White discovered another signature attribute of the country: its sporting culture. White had the chance to learn cricket and road tennis from two elite figures, Tino Best, and Mark “Venom” Griffith. She’d be the first to tell anyone looking to stay active during a trip to Barbados to try their hand at these sports.

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“Cricket is the life and heartbeat of Barbados,” says White. “Historically in this sport, Black men struggled to be recognized as players. And so they broke through a lot of barriers to become some of the most respected athletes today. Tino Best was a bowler who has a lot of personality and fought his way through the highest levels to become one of the most well known cricket players.”

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Best describes Barbados as being “the Mecca of cricket.” While introducing himself to White he explains, “I’m what you call a pitcher in baseball. I played 18 years of professional cricket so I’m a bit of an old boy, but cricket is one of the most fascinating sports. It is actually the second most popular sport in the entire world.” Replies White, “I’m really excited. I hope I don’t mess up!” Under Best’s guidance, this proves to be a non-issue.

Taking White under his wing, Best illustrates how to swing the bat (which is referred to as the “willow”). White lunges the willow forward perfecting her swing. Best calls on some of his professional player friends to join for an exhibition match. With bowlers and two umpires on the field, Best watches his model pupil have the time of her life. “Tino, thank you so much. I actually like this more than baseball,” says White. “I might be a new Bajan in the near future.”

While cricket may have a larger international profile, road tennis is a homegrown sport. “It was founded here in Barbados in the 1930s,” says Griffith. “In the poor communities, we couldn’t afford to play lawn tennis. So what we did is use the older used balls from the lawn tennis courts to go to our neighborhoods and took little chalk clear rocks and marked out the courts on the lane. We’d take a piece of wood and carry it across the center of the court to have our nets.” What started out as a makeshift lawn tennis substitute turned into a Barbadian staple. “Wow. So it went from that to now being one of the most popular sports of the island,” White says.

With rockets (road tennis’s version of paddles) in hand, it’s White vs. Venom, a match for the ages. Crowds appear, cheering on both sides as White takes on a road tennis great. Much to Venom’s surprise, White is a natural. The camera pans on an expertly placed corner shot that stuns Venom and the crowd bursts into an eruption. Venom stumbles on the court’s edges but is clearly pleased with his student. “Thank you so much for playing with me today. I had so much fun and I think I got the hang of it a little bit,” says White. Venom replies, “You are a natural and the pleasure was all mine.”