Tennis: Sussex No1 Phillips out to overome tough start to year

Lisa Phillips has a big year in front of her
Lisa Phillips has a big year in front of her

FELPHAM tennis ace Lisa Phillips – ranked No1 in Sussex for women – has had a difficult start to the year following a terrific end to 2014.

The old year went out with Phillips winning the reader’s choice for best sportsperson at the Observer Community Awards, qualifying for the prestigious Aegon British Tour Masters and winning all five matches for Sussex ladies at the Winter County Cup to help the county win promotion to division one.

Illness kicked off the year and then a training block followed to give Phillips the chance to change her service action to make it more consistent.

Phillips said: “Last year I was selected to have an individual coaching session with Louis Cayer (coach for the British Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams) and he told me what he wanted me to keep and a few things he wanted me to change.

“With the help of my coach, I’ve tweaked my forehand but the changes made to my serve have been quite major. I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made on my serve in such a short time.”

Phillips decided not to revert back to her old serve during matches even though it is obviously a disadvantage to use the new serve so soon in a match.

I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made on my serve in such a short time.”

Lisa Phillips

She did not anticipate how much it would be tested when she played 17-year-old Serena Nash in the British Tour at Corby.

Nash has been likened to her namesake Serena Williams as both play aggressive shots and have both held the No1 national ranking for their age in their respective countries.

Phillips served first and the first game lasted an incredible 35 minutes. Such a long game gave Phillips plenty of serving practice in a match situation and she was happy that her serving was reasonably consistent although still a bit weak.

Nash was able to take advantage of Phillips’ weakened serve and started the rally with an aggressive return of serve so that Phillips was put under pressure early in the point. Phillips held her own, battled back but in the end Nash was triumphant and clutched a 1-0 lead.

Phillips was more successful as the set went on but she lost the set 6-3. The second set was tighter and Phillips’ serve was fairly consistent again but Nash went ahead to win it 6-4 to win a long and tough match.

Phillips travelled to Sutton and played 20-year-old Rachel Porter. Both players have a 3.1 rating, are good friends, and play in many of the same tournaments. They know each other’s games well as they often warm-up together. Phillips secured victory with a score of 6-4, 7-6.

Phillips played at Coventry and had an epic three-and-a-half hour battle against Bolton’s Lauren Dowling. Phillips was delighted to put an ace past her opponent, her first with her new serve.

Dowling dictated the first set, winning 6-2, but Phillips secured the second 6-4. Dowling won the deciding set 6-3 to win the match and go on to the final of the British Tour event.

It promises to be a busy year for Phillips, who will soon be finishing her coaching courses. She is grateful to the Steve Bernard Foundation, who funded her coaching qualifications. She will be coaching tennis locally while also competing in some ITF events and the British Tour.

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