Flannagan over Allen at Bristol

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   BRISTOL -- Jim Flannagan was recently called "endurance man" by one of his fellow tennis competitors. In the championship match of the Bristol Open Friday night, he lived up to that nickname.
   Flannagan rallied from a tough second set to defeat Abingdon High School standout Kyle Allen 6-4, 0-6, 6-2 in the M.E.T.A. points tournament at the Bristol Racquet and Fitness Club.
   Allen used basically the same game plan he did on Thursday night in a win against Jeff Lipinski, but Flannagan just matched Allen stroke for stroke, especially in the first and third sets.
   "He kind of played me the same way he played Lipinski," Flanagan said. "Fortunately, I have a few more weapons to answer him back than Jeff had. I've got drop shots and I've got lobs. Makes a big difference when you've got a few more choices when a guy is playing that good."
   Flannagan jumped out to a 4-1 first set lead, and held on to take that frame. But then Allen stepped up his game to take the second set.
   Flannagan thought that Allen was just playing too well, and that it wasn't his fault for getting bageled.
   "I was playing good," Flannagan said. "He was just playing a little bit better, and I was missing some shots. He was giving me my volleys, but I was just missing them and rushing them. I have to give him credit. He knew not to give me a lot of pace, and kind of air it out. That's the more difficult ball for me. I kind of lost my feel and rhythm for that."
   After the set got too far out of hand, Flannagan decided to save himself for the third set.
   "It was 3-0, and I think I had some break points to get back at 3-1" Flannagan said. "Once I lost that game it was basically a double break, and I decided there's no point in trying to kill myself and not have anything left for the third. I wanted to have plenty of gas to make that hard charge for the third. That was the smart thing to do."
   Allen had the momentum, but Flannagan's experience showed in the final set.
   Despite the loss, Allen was proud of the way he played against one of Northeast Tennessee's all-time great players.
   "I played pretty good," Allen said. "The first set was about like every other time I've played him, not very good. Second and third set I played pretty good. I just bonked in the third set."
   Flannagan felt rejuvenated in the third set, and he managed to step his game up another notch.
   "I got a little adrenaline rush there in the third set," Flannagan said. "If I had burnt too much gas in that second, I probably wouldn't of had enough left to really push hard. With the style he was playing me it takes a lot more energy, because he's making me furnish all the pace. But that's the best way to beat me, unless you can hit through me. And he's not quite there yet to be able to hit through me. But it worked out."
   Allen was very impressed with his match Thursday against Lipinski, and was pretty happy with the match against Flannagan. But Allen thought he played smarter against Lipinski.
   "I didn't play as smart," Allen said. "There were a couple of points where I had the shot and didn't hit it. It really cost me."
   Flannagan, who is 49, still enjoys the game of tennis. But Flannagan says he would rather play younger players like Allen, Brandon Pike and David Poole over people his own age.
   Flannagan enjoys the challenge, and also likes to be a mentor to the younger players.
   "I enjoy playing those matches much more," Flannagan said. "Kyle's a good young man. This time next year or maybe even at the Bristol Country Club Tournament it could very well be a different story."
   In other action, Elizabethton's Randy Lacy teamed up with Mike Lusby to capture the men's 3.5 doubles championship.
   For complete results, see Scoreboard.