Phillips, Bird capture Swept Away Open
Jamaica’s No. 1 male tennis player, 25-year-old Rowland ‘Randy’ Phillips, and 14-year-old junior Selena Bird were crowned Open singles champions on Monday, Heroes Day, when they scored impressive victories over their opponents to take the main prizes in the Touch Tuina Couples Swept Away Open Clay Court Tennis Tournament. The competition took place over three days at Couples Swept Away Hotel in Negril. Phillips, who also won the title last year, defeated Jermaine Meikle 6-0, 6-2, while Bird defeated defending champion Pauline Hylton 6-2, 6-3.
Tournament director Llockett McGregor told The Gleaner that he was “pleased with the entry and the quality of tennis that was played over the three days” among the 80 players.
“The men’s and women’s Open singles have always been the most anticipated events, and although Randy was clearly the best player participating, he was pushed at times and had to play good tennis to retain his title. Bird also played very well to take the female title,” McGregor said.
In the semi-final of the Open singles, Phillips defeated Macoy Malcolm 6-3, 6-1, while Meikle booked his place in the final with a hard-fought victory over Lawrence Salmon 7-5, 6-3. On the female side, Bird lost the first set to leading female junior Michaela Stephens 2-6 but fought hard to take the second set 7-6; and then the third set 6-4. The other female finalist, Hylton, also had to go to three sets to defeat Shae-Ann Kameka 2-6, 6-0, 6-3 in a match of fluctuating fortunes.
In other matches, former Davis Cup player Dwayne Pagon won the men’s pro 35 title by defeating David Goldsmith 6-2, 6-4, while Richard Deenah won the men’s amateur 35 with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over David Goldsmith.
At the prizegiving ceremony that followed the tournament, purse money totalling $1 million and numerous trophies and other prizes were presented by Konrad Malcolm, operations manager at Couples Swept Away; Syrika Grizzle, sports manager at Couples Swept Away – and Mariana Arando and Errol Lynch, co-founders of Touch Tuina Medical Therapy, the name sponsors of the tournament. There were 14 associate sponsors.
An interesting side note to the tournament was that McGregor, who was awarded the Order of Distinction, Officer class, on Heroes Day, had to leave Negril on Sunday night to be at the awards ceremony at Kings’ House on Monday morning. He then had to hurry back to Negril for the end of the tournament and the prizegiving ceremony.
“It was a very exciting and rewarding day for me and one that I will never forget,” he said with a big smile.