Four new champions were crowned as the curtains came down on a compact and intriguing Jamaica National (JN) Open Tennis Championship at Liguanea Club in New Kingston last Saturday evening. For the sport, the event closed out the year in fine style following hours of intense rivalries and competitive action, which began at 3:00 p.m. and lasted way into the night. Rowland ‘Randy’ Phillips, who went into the final seeded as number one, beat defending champion Damion Johnson 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 to take home $200,000. Runner-up Johnson, the many-time local champion, received $100,000 in cash prize. Phillips’ performance was superb from the start of an edge-of-the-seat finale. He was the aggressor from the first set, with some powerful serving, which resulted in several aces. His powerful smashing and exquisite placement saw him take the contest in a ruthless, but clinical way. GREAT FEELING “It feels great to win. I think this is my biggest win so far. I am so happy I could come out on top. It was a really tough match. It’s always tough playing Damion,” Phillips, who has now won his last three tournaments, told The Gleaner. He is currently Jamaica’s top-ranked player. Meanwhile, women’s champion, 25-year-old Shaneka Knight, held her composure and showed experience to get by 13-year-old Micheala Stephens 7-5, 6-2 for her first JN Open championship title. “It was a really good challenge. She is really good for her age, and I had to fight and find the win after finding out her weakness,” Knight said. She earned $60,000, while the talented teen, who was playing in her first final, received $30,000 for the runner-up spot and plaudits from the crowd for her outstanding performance. Earlier, Stephen Shirley stopped long-time rival, top seeded Leighton Burton, 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 for the men’s Class Two, while Scott Jones rallied to beat Jermaine Case 6-4, 2-6 and 6-2 in Class Three. The JN-sponsored event was having its sixth renewal, with increased prize monies from $150,000 to $200,000, while the women’s prize money moved from $50,000 to $60,000. Total prize money amounted to more than $600,000. There were also improvements in the quality and quantity of competitors.
ADELAIDE, Australia, CMC – West Indies and Jamaica stars Andre Russell and Stafanie Taylor played minor roles but their Sydney Thunder franchises still did enough to secure spots in the men’s and women’s finals of the Big Bash League here yesterday.Playing at Adelaide Oval, the Thunder men’s side trounced hosts Adelaide Strikers by 54 runs while at the same venue, the Thunder’s women eked out an eight-run victory over Perth Scorchers.Both the men’s and women’s side will know their opponents in Sunday’s final following the second semi-finals in Melbourne today.In the men’s, Melbourne Stars clash with Perth Scorchers while on the women’s side, Hobart Hurricanes featuring teenaged West Indies opener Hayley Matthews, take on Sydney Sixers.Opting to bat first in the men’s semi-final, Strikers reached 159 for seven off 20 overs with Alex Ross top-scoring with 47 off 38 deliveries.Seamer Clint McKay finished with three for 44 while Russell managed a single wicket for 31 runs from four overs of pace.Left-handed opener Usman Khawaja then blasted a superb 104 off 59 balls as Thunder sped to their target in the 18th over.Meanwhile, Taylor struck 24 as Thunder Women, opting to bat first, rallied to 118 for six off their 20 overs.She put on 30 for the first wicket with Rachael Haynes who made 15 and a further 21 for the second wicket with captain Alex Blackwell who top-scored with 39.In reply, Scorchers were restricted to 110 for nine off their 20 overs, with opener Elyse Villani getting a breezy 23 from ten balls.
Kingston College’s Yashawn Hamilton was always confident he would be on the medal podium for the long jump Class Two event this year.Hamilton, a second year Class Two athlete, had to contest to 200 metres preliminaries at the same time he was competing in the long jump final. He will also be participate in the 100 metres.However, the youngster, who won the event with a leap of 7.01 metres ahead of Excelsior High’s Joel Morgan and Calabar High’s Kristoffe Clifford, said he has to be mentally strong to perform and deliver the points he is expected to contribute to his school, who are depending heavily on his points to reclaim the Champs trophy.”I wasn’t surprised I won. I know I was a finalist last year so I just came out, did my best and ensure that I was on the medal podium,” he said. “But I have to be mentally strong because I have a lot of events, so I didn’t get to do the rest of my jumps. I don’t know what would happen after those jumps because I had the 200 just after the third round (long jump).”I have the 100 metres too, so I carry a lot of points for my team and I have to ensure that we win the Champs. I was expected to come third (long jump), but I went out and did my best and got gold. I was looking at 7.3 the least, so the jump wasn’t my best, but I listened to my coach and did my best,” he added.