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Michael Lippens, left, of West Longbranch, NJ receives his winnings Sunday afternoon from Thomas Gross Jr., the director of the New Hampshire Open tennis tournament and the owner/operator and USPTA pro of the Waterville Valley Tennis Center, after beating Christopher Ellis of Shrewsbury, Mass., 6-3, 6-1. The win was the first in Lippens's professional career. (John Koziol/Union Leader Correspondent)

N.J.'s Lippens takes NH Open tennis tournament


WATERVILLE VALLEY — Michael Lippens came up from the Garden State to the Granite State this weekend, leaving Sunday with his first professional tennis title.

A 23-year old from West Long Branch, N.J., Lippens outslugged Christopher Ellis, of Shrewsbury, Mass., 6-3, 6-1 on the Rod Laver Arena court to win the 35th annual New Hampshire Open at the Waterville Valley Tennis Center.

Lippens won $2,000.

This was Lippens’ first time at the Open and he said he’d likely be back in 2017 to defend his crown. He thanked the tournament organizers and the fans who turned out to watch the matches, adding that his goal is to keep working his way up the tennis ranks.

Winning at Waterville Valley, Lippens said, was definitely a step in the right direction. “Hopefully,” he said, “I can continue to progress.”

Thomas Gross Jr., the pro/owner and director of the WVTC, said the level of talent this year was “outstanding,” as evidenced by the fact that Ellis, who was the defending champion, was only a No. 7 seed.

With serves up to 130 miles per hour, “these guys hit as hard as (Novak Djokovic) and some of the other top players in the world,” said Gross. “Just the names are different.”

Currently ranked 255th in the U.S., Lippens turned pro a year ago and was the No. 3 seed at the Open while former Goffstown High School standout Nathan Taschereau, who was the 2015 runner-up to Ellis, was the No. 1.

Last year, Ellis trounced Taschereau in the final 6-1, 6-0, using deep returns, angled volleys, drop shots and a kick serve.

In turn, Lippens used those shots Sunday — while adding a healthy dose of power to them all — to defeat Ellis, whose drop-shot failed him several times, either being tracked down by Lippens and returned for a winner or ending up in the net as an unforced error.

In the first set, Lippens broke and then held to go up 4-2 but Ellis responded with a hold of his own as did Lippens thereafter, overcoming a 15-30 deficit with a service winner, that was followed by a deep forehand down the line and, finally, an ace.

Ellis tried to use the drop shot to extend the set, but it failed him.

Starting the second set, Lippens lost at love but he got the next game when Ellis double faulted at ad out. He then went won at love to go up 2-1 and was at 3-1 after three Ellis miscues.

But after Lippens found himself in real trouble at love-40, he rallied, throwing in an off-speed service winner and yet another ace to save the game.

Serving 1-4, Ellis managed to get to 30-40 but on game point he sailed a forehand long. Lippens then wasted no time in ending the contest — putting away an overhead, that was followed by an ace; a big serve and a forehand winner; and-Ellis’ error into the net to win at love.
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