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Jason Phillips didn't picture himself in the semifinals of the York City-County Tennis Tournament.

That's exactly  where Phillips is, though, following a 7-6 (3), 6-3 victory over Kaltrin Bullaj in a men singles quarterfinal match on Tuesday evening at Wisehaven Tennis Center.

Bullaj, who advanced all the way to the final last year, entered this year's tournament as the No. 3 seed behind defending champion Phil Myers and 17-time winner Jim Kohr.

"I didn't feel like I would get this far, I feel like I'm playing with the house's money," Phillips said.

The Fairfield, Ohio, native didn't play in the tournament the past couple of years because he didn't feel in good shape.

Dieting enabled Phillips to shed 27 pounds since April 1 and convinced him to return to the tournament.

"I don't feel like I'm moving better, but I am. I felt against Kaltrin that I had to vary the pace, vary the speed, hit junk balls and then hit hard. That was the only way I could play him," Philips said.

Phillips trailed 6-5 in the first set, but rallied to force the tiebreaker. After falling behind, 2-1, in the tiebreaker, Phillips won five of the next six points to win the tiebreaker.

Bullaj had two set points in the opening set, but Phillips refused to let him cash in either one.

"He just ripped two good balls, there wasn't anything I could do," Bullaj said. "The Cinderella story continues."

The two split the first six games of the second set before Phillips closed the match by winning three straight games.

Other action: Phillips will meet Myers in one semifinal on Thursday evening.

Jared Howat, the 2015 champion, rallied to top Mikesh Desai, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2, in another quarterfinal on Thursday, while the quarterfinal between Kohr and Tim Dunn was suspended by darkness in the third-and-deciding set with Kohr leading, 3-2.

The Kohr-Dunn match will  be completed beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday. The semifinal matches will follow at 6:30 p.m.

In a Women's Singles round-robin match, Julianne Cassady prevailed, 6-0, 3-6, 6-4, in a tight match with Darlene Atwood.

Reach Dick VanO'Linda at sports@yorkdispatch.com.

 

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