Felpham girl beats the odds to rise up tennia rankings

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Lisa Phillips has got off to a tremendous start to her winter tennis programme.

The 13-year old Felpham Community School girl is ranked at number 12 in Sussex for ladies in the Aegon British tennis rankings.

She is the youngest player to have a ladies’ Sussex tennis ranking.

Phillips is unbeaten this season within her 7.2 rating, having beaten eight opponents since September. Her 100 per cent win ratio means she has easily secured promotion to 7.1 at the end of the year as she has exceeded the Lawn Tennis Association’s requirement of winning a minimum of seven matches with a 60 per cent win ratio.

Her 7.1 rating will be the highest in Sussex for under-14 girls.

Phillips started the winter season with convincing wins for her new team Brighton Parks. She plays doubles for the ladies’ first and second teams in the Aegon Sussex League in divisions one and four and helped them beat Bognor 6-0, 6-2 and 6-2, 6-0.

Phillips plays in the mixed team in the county league with regular doubles partner Graham Godden, who used to be her coach when she played at Middleton Sports Club. They won their first match against Grasshoppers of Brighton 6-2, 6-0.

They’ve partnered each other for several years and know each other’s game really well.

Phillips has played in six tournaments at Sutton and Hatfield this season. Five were matchplays in the open (ladies) age group and one was a 
grade-three tournament in the under-16 age group.

Phillips won two of the matchplays and in the process beat coach Helena David 7-5, 6-2, who was rated higher.

In the grade-three tournament in October, Phillips secured a 
7-5, 6-3 win over Spaniard Melanie Vaxevanakis – an incredible achievement as the match was on clay, the surface on which Vaxevanakis trains regularly. Phillips has played on clay only twice before.

In the semis, Phillips lost 5-7, 5-7 in a tight match against Romanian Karola Bejenaru, who is rated above her.

Phillips still has another three years in this age group.

She generally competes against ladies or against older girls who attend a tennis academy. In contrast Phillips trains at Brighton Parks.

Her club have high-standard players but, unlike the academy players, Phillips does not have the advantage of being able to train during school hours or have the use of indoor courts, clay courts, fitness instructors, nutritionalists and physiotherapists which academy players do.

Phillips said: “During the winter, I mainly play on public courts with floodlights. If the court is too wet then I do fitness training.”

Phillips’s training schedule includes running on the promenade and around playing fields as well as going on outdoor fitness trails.

It’s not the most conventional approach but seems to work.

Phillips added: “My tennis is improving all the time and I’m now beating a lot of players I lost to last year.

“By playing in a club, instead of at an academy, I have no pressure placed on me to perform. I can simply enjoy playing my tennis. I love tennis and I’m confident my results will take care of themselves.”

Her school has been very supportive of her tennis and she is fortunate several local players of a good standard also play against her.