Phillips, Knight top JN Open
Four new champions were crowned as the curtains came down on a compact and intriguing Jamaica National (JN) Open Tennis Championship at Liguanea Club in New Kingston last Saturday evening.
For the sport, the event closed out the year in fine style following hours of intense rivalries and competitive action, which began at 3:00 p.m. and lasted way into the night.
Rowland 'Randy' Phillips, who went into the final seeded as number one, beat defending champion Damion Johnson 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 to take home $200,000.
Runner-up Johnson, the many-time local champion, received $100,000 in cash prize.
Phillips' performance was superb from the start of an edge-of-the-seat finale. He was the aggressor from the first set, with some powerful serving, which resulted in several aces. His powerful smashing and exquisite placement saw him take the contest in a ruthless, but clinical way.
"It feels great to win. I think this is my biggest win so far. I am so happy I could come out on top. It was a really tough match. It's always tough playing Damion," Phillips, who has now won his last three tournaments, told The Gleaner.
He is currently Jamaica's top-ranked player.
Meanwhile, women's champion, 25-year-old Shaneka Knight, held her composure and showed experience to get by 13-year-old Micheala Stephens 7-5, 6-2 for her first JN Open championship title.
"It was a really good challenge. She is really good for her age, and I had to fight and find the win after finding out her weakness," Knight said.
She earned $60,000, while the talented teen, who was playing in her first final, received $30,000 for the runner-up spot and plaudits from the crowd for her outstanding performance.
Earlier, Stephen Shirley stopped long-time rival, top seeded Leighton Burton, 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 for the men's Class Two, while Scott Jones rallied to beat Jermaine Case 6-4, 2-6 and 6-2 in Class Three.
The JN-sponsored event was having its sixth renewal, with increased prize monies from $150,000 to $200,000, while the women's prize money moved from $50,000 to $60,000. Total prize money amounted to more than $600,000. There were also improvements in the quality and quantity of competitors.