Victories from Randy Phillips and Blaise Bicknell put Jamaica 2-0 up against Estonia in Davis Cup tie

By Sports Desk February 04, 2023
From left: Randy Phillips, Blaise Bicknell From left: Randy Phillips, Blaise Bicknell

Singles victories from Rowland “Randy” Phillips and Blaise Bicknell gave hosts Jamaica a 2-0 lead over Estonia after day one of their group two Davis Cup tie at the Eric Bell National tennis Centre on Saturday.

The day’s first match of the tie saw Jamaica’s Rowland “Randy” Phillips dominate Estonia’s top ranked player Kristjan Tamm 6-1, 6-1 in just one hour to give the hosts the lead.

“Very solid and consistent on my part,” said Phillips on his performance after the match.

Phillips noted that he did not expect such a one-sided match on paper as he is currently ranked 1387 in the ATP rankings while Tamm is much higher at 663.

“It went a lot better than expected. He’s a tough opponent and maybe he didn’t play his best today but I took advantage of my opportunities,” he said.

“I think the atmosphere unsettled him. The crowd helped me out a lot and gave me energy,” he added.

With Jamaica hosting a Davis Cup tie for the first time since 2007, Phillips also spoke about what it meant to play at home.

“Extremely special. It’s a dream come true. Looking over and seeing my family and friends after points kept me locked in and focused for sure,” Phillips said.

With Phillips already in the win column, it was time for Blaise Bicknell, Jamaica’s highest ranked player at number 769 in the ATP rankings, to take the court against Kenneth Raisma who is ranked number 1640.

It was the Estonian who was in the ascendancy early, racing out to a quick 3-0 lead before taking the first set 6-4.

Bicknell was not done, however, and rallied to take the second set by a similar score before overwhelming his Estonian counterpart in the third, winning 6-0 and securing the lead for the Jamaicans heading into Sunday. The match lasted an hour and 46 minutes.

Jamaica has a chance to clinch the tie on Sunday when Phillips and Bicknell take on Raisma and Jurgen Zopp in doubles.

The 34-year-old Zopp, who retired from professional tennis in 2020, achieved a career high ATP ranking of 71 back in 2012 and reached the third round of the French Open in 2018.

The match gets underway at 1:00pm (2:00pm ECT) and can be viewed on the SportsMax TV YouTube channel.

Related items

  • 24th KPMG Squash League serves off on Tuesday 24th KPMG Squash League serves off on Tuesday

    The Jamaica Squash Association (JSA) and KPMG joined forces recently to launch the 24th KPMG League which will feature sixteen teams. The launch was held at the association's home base at the Liguanea Club in New Kingston. 

    There was a mood of heightened excitement for this year's staging of the league after last year's successful post Covid-19 return. AGI was the dominant team then but there is one change to their line-up which could make the difference this year. 

    Karen Anderson, president of the JSA said "we can expect exciting matches. We see some really strong teams that have registered for the event and I think we will see an upset or two and so we are extremely excited to see how the matches will play out over the two months of the event." 

    The league will run on a handicap system which is used to level the playing field so that everybody will have a chance to play and do well.

    The teams will play round robin matches in the first round of four teams per group. The top two teams will go to the quarterfinals where all matches going forward will be played on a knockout basis. The other two teams in the group will play in a plate final or final for the losing teams. 

    Anderson announced that the association will introduce new software to run the league fully for the first time.

    "The association will be running it using the software that we have, the SportyHQ software, which will help us to be a bit more efficient in getting our results out and in the efficiency of the play because now people can follow live. We are trying to be innovative in how we bring new and different to a league that has been running for 24 years." 

    Additionally, Anderson welcomed new sponsor Wata to provide hydration throughout the league. She thanked title sponsor for this year's sponsorship of five hundred and fifty thousand dollars. This will allow for the association to take up the cost of staging all the matches while relieving the teams of the cost of hosting matches. 

    Rajan Trehan, country managing partner of title sponsor KPMG credited the league for its continued high contribution to developing young players in the game of squash in the country.

    "Over the period (of our sponsorship) it has developed into a very strong league and its one of the major events on the JSA calendar. We are proud because we believe in the development of youth as well as sports and we have adopted squash as one of the sports to make sure that we contribute in the development of squash in particular." 

    He also said that KPMG will be around for much longer than the 24 years they have been sponsoring the league. 

    One of Jamaica's best young player Sanjana Nallapati endorsed that league while saying that her game had improved because of her involvement in the league. "It (her game) was definitely better because we had a bunch of matches. Games are usually up to 11 but these were up to 21. Even though it was best of three, it tested our fitness quite a bit and the squash definitely improved quite a bit by the end of it." 

    Dave Morrison of defending champion AGI (Advantage General Insurance) was upbeat about the league. "Last year was really satisfying. We have never always done well because the nature of the tournament is to ensure that regardless of the quality of players you have, it’s all eliminated or equalized because of the handicap structure. But last year we really came out with a certain level of determination and yes, I had to one or two times, I had to save the team but I will remind them that that's what I did but yes, we had a very, very exciting tournament last year. I really enjoyed it." 

    The league will serve off on Tuersday evening at the Liguanea Club while it is scheduled to end on April 19 at the same venue.

     

  • What’s next for new world number 27 Katie Boulter after San Diego Open success? What’s next for new world number 27 Katie Boulter after San Diego Open success?

    Katie Boulter has stormed into the top 30 of the WTA rankings for the first time after she claimed San Diego Open success.

    British number one Boulter recovered from a set down to beat Marta Kostyuk 5-7 6-2 6-2 to clinch a maiden WTA 500 title.

    Here, the PA news agency looks at the rise of the new world number 27 and what is next.

    Always destined for stardom?

    Boulter has been a prominent name in British tennis circles since her teenage years and followed in the footsteps of her mother Susan by picking up a racket to represent her nation at junior level. A breakthrough Wimbledon in 2018 – where she tested Naomi Osaka – appeared the catalyst for the tall right-hander to kick on in her development after she reached 82 in the world, but a serious back injury a year later curtailed her progress.

    Road to recovery

    The spinal stress fracture in Boulter’s back forced her to miss the majority of 2019 and when she was finally fit again, the coronavirus pandemic sent the world into lockdown. After the tennis season did resume, minor injuries halted the momentum of Boulter, who won a low-level ITF event in Grenoble at the start of 2022 before a leg issue saw her sit out the clay-court season.

    Second Wimbledon breakthrough

     

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Katie Boulter (@katiecboulter)

     

    Boulter recovered in time to achieve a grand-slam best result with a run to the Wimbledon third round after victory over former world number one Karolina Pliskova. The next big challenge was to improve the robustness of her body after she built a strong team around her, which included coach Biljana Veselinovic and she kicked off 2023 with a number of fine displays in ITF tournaments. She beat compatriot Jodie Burrage to seal Canberra success before she made another two finals in Japan in May.

    Maiden WTA title

    The 2023 grass-court season started with Boulter making the last four at the Surbiton Trophy before she beat a string of compatriots to seal Nottingham Open success for her first victory at WTA 250 level. It was followed by third-round showings at both Wimbledon and the US Open to cap off an excellent year. The 27-year-old’s new-found confidence was on display for Great Britain at the United Cup in December where she got the better of top-five player Jessica Pegula before going all the way in San Diego.

    Can she surprise at Indian Wells?

    There will be little time for Boulter to celebrate the biggest victory of her career or the Mexican Open success of boyfriend Alex De Minaur, with both set to play in the women’s and men’s editions of the WTA 1000 tournament BNP Paribas Open, which starts this week. British number one Boulter enters after beating five top-50 opponents in San Diego to take her season record to 11 wins in 14 matches. A key feature of her form has been the Briton’s composure in crunch moments after she recovered from a number of first-set double-faults to beat Kostyuk and she will fancy her chances of causing a splash in Indian Wells with her booming forehand a match for anyone right now.

  • Katie Boulter thanks boyfriend Alex de Minaur after dash to watch San Diego win Katie Boulter thanks boyfriend Alex de Minaur after dash to watch San Diego win

    British number one Katie Boulter thanked boyfriend Alex de Minaur for racing over to California to watch her win a first WTA 500 tournament after his own success at the Mexican Open.

    The 27-year-old came from behind to claim the San Diego Open title with a 5-7 6-2 6-2 win over Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk and earn a second career title.

    Boulter’s victory was watched by De Minaur, who defended his Mexican Open title in Acapulco on Saturday before scheduling an early-morning flight to support her on Sunday.

    “I want to say a small special thank you to my boyfriend,” Boulter said post-match.

    “He finished last night at midnight and I really want to embarrass him. He got a 4.15 taxi this morning and six o’clock flight to be here today, so I do appreciate it.”

    After an even start to the match, Kostyuk began to get the better of Boulter and surged into a 5-2 lead.

    Boulter fought back to level at 5-5 but the sixth-seeded Ukrainian regained the momentum to wrap up the first set 7-5.

    Boulter then found her groove in the second, dominating on her first serve to clinch the set 6-2 and force a deciding third set.

    The Briton continued her ascendancy into the third, claiming the first break point of the set en route to opening up a 3-1 advantage.

    Boulter broke again in the seventh game and hit her first two aces of the match in the next to close out the victory in two hours and 13 minutes.

    The San Diego win is her second WTA title, adding to a maiden championship on grass in Nottingham last summer and Boulter reflected on a “special” week in California.

    “This week has been very, very special for so many different reasons,” she said post-match.

    “This one is pretty amazing, I’ve worked very hard for it, I played some incredible tennis all week.

    “Today was a complete battle, with myself as well because I was a little bit nervous. But I managed to get over the line and that I’m very proud of.

    “A lot of it was about me staying as tough as I possibly could mentally and I managed to keep my cool and actually kind of went within myself and calmed myself down a lot.

    “I think that really helped me and then I started to relax and play through shots a little bit more.”

    Boulter has had a flying start to the 2024 season and the victory over Kostyuk sees her break into the top 30 for the first time, now ranked 27th.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.