Having completed her GCSEs two days earlier, Felpham’s Lisa Phillips swapped her school books for her tennis kit and travelled to Dartford to start a long summer of tennis tournaments.
With high hopes and knowing her game has improved a lot over the past few months, Phillips was confident she would easily be able to reach her target of gaining just two more qualifying wins by the end of the summer to go up to a 3.2 rating.
Phillips also had a target of being ranked inside the top 50 in Great Britain for the ladies (open) by the end of the year and was scheduled to play in British Tour events over the summer to help her achieve this target. But sport is unpredictable. Accidents happen and can cruelly dash hopes in a second. Phillips had her first retirement during the Dartford match when she played against Louise Ronaldson, an opponent she last played four years ago. Both girls are 4.1-rated and 16 years old but Ronaldson has a women’s GB ranking of 53.
The match was tight and at 3-3 in the first set the match was proving to be a good one with both players playing some great competitive tennis.
Then disaster struck. Mid-point, Phillips tripped over her own feet and fell heavily on to her right hand and was unable to continue. A trip to hospital confirmed what Phillips already knew - a fracture to one of the bones in her wrist, a bone that controls the movement of the wrist and thumb, which is vital for playing tennis.
For now a plastercast replaces any hope of playing tennis in the immediate future and Phillips is disappointed she will have to miss the grass-court season, which is unfortunate as grass is her favourite playing surface.
Earlier in the season, Phillips had more luck. Winning just five extra points meant that victory was in the bag when she played against Middlesex’s Savannah Sills. Both girls are the same age and have a 4.1 tennis rating.
The match promised to be a challenging one for Phillips, who had never tasted victory against Sills in their previous two encounters. Sills has a string of impressive results and is the current singles runner-up in the Kuwait ITF Junior Championships, so would have been the obvious favourite.
Phillips started strongly and claimed the first set 6-2 before Sills retaliated by winning the second set 6-1. This forced a ten-point tie-break and at 2-2 the match was in the balance.
During the next rally, Phillips thought Sills had picked up a double bounce and this was confirmed by the referee, who awarded the point to Phillips. This swung the tie-break in Phillips’ favour. Phillips kept her lead and clinched the tie-break 10-5 to win the match.
Phillips continued her winning form against Hertfordshire’s Georgie Walker, another 4.1 rated player. Phillips had played Walker only once before and was prepared for her speed around the court and quick footwork.
Walker’s unforced errors are so few that no cheap points could be earned off her. The match was closely fought with some incredibly-long rallies so Phillips was delighted to win 6-2, 6-4.
Walker is the current singles runner-up in a Tennis Europe event in Cyprus so a win against her was a fantastic result, especially as Phillips was defeated in their previous match last year.
Phillips travelled to Corby to play against seventeen year old Rachel Kings, another 4.1 rated player who is Northamptonshire’s top ranked player in both the 18u’s and the Ladies (Open). Going in to the match, Phillips knew that Kings would be difficult to beat as she had lost 1-6, 1-6 when she last played her 18 months ago. This time, Phillips got off to an impressive start and won the first set 6-1 and continued her winning form by winning the second set 6-4 to win the match.
Phillips had a two-hour match against 24-year-old Laura Morrill, who plays for Wimbledon. Morrill has a 3.1 rating with international experience playing on the ITF circuit and has a women’s world ranking high inside the top 800.
The first set started evenly with both players breaking their opponent’s service games. The score was neck and neck at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3 and 4-4 before Morrill clutched the next two games to win the set 6-4. Despite a fightback in the second set, Phillips was unable to stop Morrill from marching ahead and winning the second set 6-3.