Phillips was looking forward to the challenge of playing in the top flight, having been part of last year’s winning team who gained promotion from division 2b.
Her place was threatened when she tripped and sprained her left wrist during a training session. On the day of the first match Phillips decided she could play with her injury. Her forehand and single-handed backhand was not affected and only the ball toss for the serve was difficult.
Sussex were drawn against Middlesex, last year’s runners-up, on the first day. Phillips, No1 for Sussex, played Maraim Bolkvadze, who is ranked 25 in GB and played in the Fed Cup for Georgia. Bolkvadze powered through to win 6-0, 6-1.
Elise Van Heuvelen and Olivia Smith, playing at two and three respectively for Sussex, won their singles matches but Sussex were defeated in the remaining three singles and the three doubles.
On the second day, Sussex faced Yorkshire. Sussex were strengthened, with the addition of 2.2-rated Michaela Ince, who came in to play at No1.
This had the benefit of pushing the rest of the team down a position, which in theory meant the others would have a slightly easier match.
Phillips was drawn against Holly Horsfall, who is ranked 35 in GB ladies. Fantastic wins from Phillips, Van Heuvelen and Smith meant all was to play for in the doubles. But Sussex were unable to push ahead and lost two of the doubles, resulting in a close defeat.
Surrey, team champions from last year, boasted a strong team. Phillips was drawn against 29-year-old Mel South, former British No2.
Phillips was outclassed and lost 6-0, 6-1. Sussex gained three singles victories from Holly Thompson and stalwarts Van Heuvelen and Smith but Surrey secured victory with wins in the doubles.
That left Surrey as champions, Middlesex runners-up, Yorkshire third and Sussex fourth. Yorkshire will be relegated back to division 2a and Sussex back to division 2b.
The Sussex line-up was Lydia Hammond, Natasha Khan, Michaela Ince, Lisa Phillips, Elise Van Heuvelen, Olivia Smith, Kyria Dunford, Holly Thompson and Kate Smith.
Phillips, sponsored by Game, Set and Match, will continue to play in international and national tournaments during 2016. She will also combine her own training and competitive commitments with some tennis coaching.
Phillips is a fully-licensed tennis coach with the LTA having passed her level-three tennis coaching qualifications.
See www.lisaphillips.co.uk for further details.
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