Johnson, Harrison top JN Bank Tennis
Thirty-two-year-old tennis coach Damion Johnson and 15-year-old Campion High School student Jenna Harrison, took the Open Class titles in the Jamaica National Bank 2017 Open Tennis tournament, which ended on Sunday at the Liguanea Club in New Kingston.
Dogged by rain throughout the week, the tournament, which should have ended on Saturday, had to be pushed into Sunday.
The matches were competitive throughout, and in the finals, Johnson defeated his arch-rival and No. 3 seed Dwayne Pagon 7-6, 6-2, while Harrison defeated Pauline Hylton 6-2, 6-4. Garth Darby defeated Rudolph Jackson Jr 6-2, 6-4 to win the Men's Class 2 event, while Stuart Allen defeated Ricardo Livingston to win the Men's Class 3 battle, 7-6, 4-6, 10-8.
Johnson, who was the defending champion, had his most serious test in the semi-finals against Marcus Malcolm, who was seeded fourth. Malcolm was very aggressive and won the first set 7-5. He made Johnson work very hard in the next two sets, before eventually winning those 7-5, 7-6 (5). In the final, Johnson was pushed hard in the first set by Pagon, but dogged play gave him the set in a tie-break. He then raised his game appreciably to take the second set 6-2.
"I am thrilled to win this tournament for the third time in seven years. I had to work hard, but in the end it was worth it" he told The Gleaner after collecting his cheque for $200,000.
Harrison was winning her first senior tournament and said that she was "thrilled". In the final, she met Montego Bay's Hylton, who is the entertainment coordinator at the Holiday Inn. Hylton created an upset, when she took out the No. 1 seed and defending champion Michaela Stephens 6-4, 7-5, but could not cope with Harrison's mixture of guile and power.
"I know that she likes to use the slice and I was prepared for this" said Harrison. "She is a good player, and I knew that I had to hold my composure. It is my first senior tournament victory, and what makes it so much better is that I did not want to enter. I had a lot of school-work and exams, but my parents and coach McGregor encouraged me, and I changed my mind. I feel great today," she ended.
Jamaica National has been sponsoring senior and junior tournaments for 16 years, and the Open was having its seventh renewal. Client relations manager Michael Collins expressed his pleasure at the high standard of tennis that he had seen throughout the week, and noted the increase in entries."We will continue to support this tournament" he added.