Blaise Bicknell shines at Swept Away Open
One of Jamaica's most promising tennis players, 15-year-old Blaise Bicknell, created a sensation over the Heroes Day weekend when he pulled off a big upset in his match against the No. 1-seeded Rowland 'Randy' Phillips to take the men's singles title at the Couples Swept Away Clay Court tournament, held at Couples Swept Away hotel in Negril. Bicknell won 6-1, 6-1.
Fourteen-year-old Michaela Stephens, the No. 1 seed, won the women's singles title by defeating another teenager, No. 2 seed Shea-Ann Kameka, 6-1, 6-4.
Phillips, the 2015 champion, was highly favoured to win the tournament and reached the men's final with a comfortable 6-3,6-3 victory over Marcus Malcolm. Bicknell, the fifth seed, was impressive in getting to the final with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Macoy Malcolm. A hard-fought match was expected in the final, but Bicknell, who was aggressive from the start, never allowed the more mature Phillips to settle down.
It was obvious from the start that Bicknell was in a no-nonsense mood as he went on the offensive immediately. His forehand shots were on target immediately, and he soon had the first set sewn up 6-1. The general feeling was that the very experienced Phillips would come storming back in the second set, but this did not happen. Bicknell continued on the rampage, surged into the lead quickly and did not look back. His dominance continued and the second set ended up just like the first.
Bicknell said afterwards that he had studied the type of game that Phillips played and had a plan going into the match. It worked, and he came away with a good victory which, for him, is a confidence booster.
Stephens was her usual confident self, and she took control of her match against Kameka, whose game is also improving, and had a comfortable victory. Kameka, who is a fighter, worked hard in the second set, but Stephens was able to keep a step ahead of her and gained one crucial service break.
In the men's Pro 35, Dwayne Pagon scored an easy 6-0, 6-2 victory over David Goldsmith; and in the men's Amateur 35, Richard Deenah defeated Ruddy Armstrong 6-3, 6-3.