Allen, Flannagan to decide Bristol Open championship

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   BRISTOL -- The men's open final of the Bristol Open Tennis Tournament figured to be another bash between arch-rivals Jim Flannagan and Jeff Lipinski, but Abingdon High School standout Kyle Allen crashed the party.
   Allen easily defeated Lipinski 6-2, 6-1 Thursday night at the Bristol Racquet and Fitness Club to set up a meeting with Flannagan tonight for the championship.
   The rivalry between Lipinski and Flannagan has been well documented, but Allen put that on hold with his outstanding play.
   A lot of players get frustrated playing Lipinski, but Allen was given some pointers by one of the area's top players in how to handle him.
   Allen passed the test with flying colors.
   "I kept my composure," Allen said. "I was warned. It's a lot easier when you get warned first."
   Allen recently won the 18's at the Little Caesars Junior Tournament, and was in prime shape against the 50-year-old Lipinski.
   Allen thought he was in a groove.
   "I've played a bunch lately," Allen said. "I've played a lot. I played like five hours today before this. It felt good actually. I was hitting pretty good."
   Allen didn't overpower Lipinski, but he just stayed consistent and kept his opponent off guard.
   "I didn't over hit." Allen said. "If I had over hit it I would have lost. That's part of being warned, too."
   Allen will now move on to his match with Flannagan. Flannagan recently won the Little Caesars Men's Open Singles title at the Little Caesars Tournament, and is playing well going into the final.
   But Allen plans to stick to the same game plan he had today.
   "I've got to be consistent," Allen said.
   Allen and Flannagan are good friends, and Allen joked about how he was going to play Flannagan after the match.
   "I'm going to drop shot and lob him," Allen said. "I just hope I can beat him."
   The women's open championship was decided on Thursday night, as Virginia Intermont's Kago Phatswane took home the gold.
   Phatswane knocked off Laura Hinkle 6-2, 6-3 to take the title.
   Even with the win, Phatswane thought she could have played better.
   "I didn't play that good," Phatswane said. "I can play better than what I did today."
   After an easy first set, Phatswane fell behind 3-2 in the second frame. But Phatswane stepped into another gear to take the final four games of the match.
   "I really wasn't in any trouble," Phatswane said. "I was just trying to have fun."
   Phatswane seemed to be having loads of fun out on the court. She smiled almost the whole match, whether she won the point or not.
   Phatswane thinks that's just her personality.
   "They always tell me I smile," Phatswane said. "I don't even try to."
   Phatswane played No. 1 for the Lady Cobras this season. Virginia Intermont's women's team won the AAC championship this past year.
   VI tennis is strong in both the men's and ladies divisions. VI's tennis team includes former Elizabethton High standout Brandon Pike.
   "I think it's really good," Phatswane said about tennis at VI. "The girls and guys both do well."
   With the victory on Thursday night, Phatswane left with that same smile she showed on the court.
   "I feel good," Phatswane said.