Lisa Phillips travelled to Antalya, Turkey, for her first set of international tennis tournaments abroad this year.
The 19-year-old’s travel and tournament entry costs were sponsored by Chichester Rotary Club and this support was invaluable as there is no funding from the LTA for players starting out on the international tennis circuit.
The generosity of Chichester Rotary Club meant I could gain more vital experience competing at international level.Lisa Phillips
Phillips said, “It’s very tough financially. The generosity of Chichester Rotary Club meant I could gain more vital experience competing at international level. This is the next step up for me and it’s crucial I get more experience at this higher level.”
In her final qualifying round, Phillips had a tough win against Esen Kokce. The Turkish 19-year-old had home advantage and experience of already having a world ranking.
Undaunted, Phillips fought hard and gained a fantastic win of 6-4, 6-2 to earn a place in her first main draw of the singles event.
She was next up against Rio Kitagawa of Japan for a place in the second round. Punching above her weight, Phillips managed to get on the scoreboard but did little to threaten the world-ranked 22-year-old and was knocked out with a 6-1, 6-1 loss.
In the following week, Phillips was pitched against No4 seed Maria Fernada Herazo Gonzalez. The Columbian was far more experienced on paper, having reached a world ranking of 643. Phillips was outclassed but secured a couple of games, losing 6-1, 6-1.
In the doubles event of the main draw, Phillips paired up with Jue Wang from China and played American Ashley Mackey and Almudena Sanz-Llaneza Ferdnandez from Spain.
Phillips and Wang were unlucky to lose the first set 7-6 in a tie-break. Phillips and her partner forged ahead in the next set with a convincing 6-2 win so all was to play for in the third set tie-break. Despite battling hard, Phillips and Wang lost a credible 11-9.
In a repeat of the previous week, Phillips, this time with her partner Imane Kosher from Switzerland, faced En-Pei Huang and Hsin-Yuan Shih, both from Chinese Taipei.
Phillips and Kosher got off to a formidable start winning the first set 6-4 before letting the match slip. They lost the next set 6-0 and disappointingly lost the tie-break decider 10-7.
While in Antalya, Phillips took the opportunity to train with some of the other foreign players competing. Hitting at such a high level against players with different styles from all over the world will help Phillips to develop her game further and was a fantastic opportunity to have.
Back home, Phillips, whose kit is sponsored by Game, Set and Match, headed to Felixstowe for a Premier British tour event, the first domestic tournament on grass.
The tournament proved popular with highly-ranked British players and those with a world ranking, all trying to win the prize of a wild card into the Wimbledon play-offs.
Phillips was drawn in the third quarter of the main draw and faced 2.2-rated Olivia Parson.
A thrilling three-setter was played and Phillips edged ahead against the Kent county champion to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. In the next round Phillips faced 25-year-old Aimee Gibson, who has a domestic rating of 1.2 and a world ranking. Gibson was on form and forged ahead to win a convincing 6-0, 6-1.
Phillips’ second tournament on grass was at Eastbourne. The Aegon Trophy is an annual tennis tournament and attracts some of the world’s top up-and-coming women’s players.
The tournament is held before the main tour’s grass-court season starts and is a treat for spectators wanting to see some of the top players in action.
Phillips narrowly missed out on gaining entry to the singles qualifying round but was awarded a wildcard into the doubles event with Sussex partner Tzarina Tuen-Matthews.
In the main draw, the Sussex teenagers were pitched against No2 seeds Zhaoxuan Yang and Kai-Lin Zhang, both from China and with a world ranking inside the top 100.
It was a tough ask for the Sussex pair to make any headway in the first round of the main draw and they were defeated 6-0, 6-0.
Phillips and her partner can both take away great experience of playing against world-class players. Yang and Zhang progressed through the draw and were the eventual winners.
Phillips is hoping to play in more international events abroad later in the year if finances allow.
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