Johnson, Pagon take top titles at JN Open
Leroy Brown, Gleaner Writer
Experience trumped youth at the Liguanea Club, New Kingston last Saturday night, as Damion Johnson and Sasha Pagon dispatched their younger opponents, Daniel Harris and Franchesca Chin respectively, as the curtain came down on the 2014 edition of the Jamaica National Open Tennis tournament.
The week long tournament which was part of the Llockett McGregor 2014 tennis series, attracted over 100 entrants, and competition was keen up to the semi-finals. The finals turned out to be one-sided affairs, however. Johnson, 29, and Jamaica's No. 1 player, dismantled 19-year-old university student Harris with a good all-round game to take the men's Open title 6-1, 6-3.
In the female final, Pagon made a successful return to competitive tennis after a six- year layoff, to overwhelm Chin, an 18-year-old university student, 6-0, 6-1.
Johnson also took the Open doubles title, in partnership with his 13-year old student, Blaise Bicknell. Playing intelligent tennis, they turned back a serious challenge from brothers Kristopher and Kyle Martin, 1-6, 6-3, 10-6. Zane Robinson defeated Lloyd Nelson 6-3, 6-2 to take the Men's Class 2 singles, while Andrez Coy defeated Michael Lyncook 7-6(5), 7-5 to take the Men's Class 3 singles.
Johnson came into the tournament very confident, and did not allow Harris, who played below his usual high standard in the finals, to get into the match. Serving first, he won the first game at love and broke an erratic Harris immediately, to take a 2-0 lead. Harris broke Johnson's serve to trail 2-1 but then was himself broken again and the writing was on the wall. Johnson then cruised to a 6-1 win.
In the second set, Johnson appeared set to win comfortably once more with a 4-0 lead, but Harris had a brief period when he did things right, and down 5-1, he came back to 5-3 with an unlikely break. Johnson, however, regained control for a 6-3 win.
Johnson told The Gleaner that he was happy to end the year on a winning note and was looking forward to a good 2015.
Pagon, who was once one of Jamaica's leading female players, had virtually retired from the game, but shaking off the rust, and cheered on by husband Dwayne, a former Davis Cup captain, and with their seven-month old son Zander a curious onlooker, she showed that she can still hold her own on the court. She had too much power and guile for Chin and won easily.