Tennis: Phillips goes up against Danish Fed Cup ace

Lisa Phillips and Karen Barbat
Lisa Phillips and Karen Barbat

FELPHAM’S Lisa Phillips took on a Fed Cup player when she travelled to play in a tournament in Koksijde, Belgium.

The prestigious Flanders Ladies’ Trophy is an international Challenger event and 18-year-old Phillips, sponsored by Game, Set and Match, travelled the day before and arrived at the same time as Karen Barbat, a Dane currently world Rranked around 600.

Phillips and Barbat had some training hits together on the newly-constructed centre court. Phillips enjoyed the practice and when the draw was done by tournament director Marc Jacobs, Phillips was drawn against Barbat.

Barbat, 23, represented Denmark earlier this year in the Fed Cup, the women’s equivalent of the Davis Cup, playing singles and doubles. Along with team-mate Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark beat Norway, Algeria and Greece.

It was one of seven red clay courts at the nearby Koksijde Tennis Club that Phillips was scheduled to play on.

Barbat got off to a commanding start and won the first set 6-0. Phillips dug in and was able to halt Barbat’s progress slightly by gaining three break points. This was not enough and Phillips could not capitalise on her position and lost the second set 6-0.

There is no such thing as a weak player in an ITF and I knew my match would be very tough. It was such a fantastic experience to play at such a high level in my first tournament abroad.

Lisa Phillips

Phillips said: “No player wants to lose a match with a double bagel. I had a few chances to win a game or two but this wasn’t enough.

“I knew the standard would be really high. There is no such thing as a weak player in an ITF and I knew my match would be very tough. It was such a fantastic experience to play at such a high level in my first tournament abroad.”

Back home, Phillips played in the British Tour at the Cumberland LTC. The West Hampstead club is where Bjorn Borg warmed up for five successive Wimbledon victories and whose membership boasts the former British No1 Anne Keothavong.

In the main draw Phillips was drawn against Ellie Tsimbilakis and pushed ahead to win the first set 6-4. Phillips lost the second set 7-6 before winning the third 6-4 to win the match.

In the next round Phillips faced 2.2-rated Louise Holtum. The No1 seed is ranked No37 in the GB women’s game so Phillips did well to win the match 6-3, 6-3.

In the quarter-final, Phillips was disappointed she didn’t keep up her previous day’s good form and lost 6-0, 6-3 to Middlesex’s Chelsea May Samways.

Phillips will be looking to improve her fitness with Core Results, who also sponsor her, in preparation for her next ITF tournaments abroad in Croatia. For further details of Phillips’ progress or if you would like tennis coaching, see www.lisaphillips@co.uk

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