Tennis: Players battle hard for national final places

Eimear Smyth.  DP11

BACKHAND… Eimear Smyth

Irvinestown tennis club were the host club at the weekend for the Ulster Provincial U14 Matchplay finals when the top 16 boys and girls throughout the province battled hard for a place into the National Finals in Waterford at the end of the month.

On Saturday afternoon in very windy conditions not ideal for controlled Tennis play began for the Fermanagh  players with Eimear Smyth (Enniskillen) getting off to a great start beating Briege Mc Garry (Ballycastle) 6/2, 6/2 , this was followed by wins from Irvinestown  duo Kyran Maguire  6/3, 3/2 rtd over Ben Laverty (Belfast)  and Conan Whitley 6/ 3  6/3 over Joshua Shaw (Belfast) While Amy Griffin (Enniskillen) received a Walkover.


Grace Whaley and Oliver Mc Caughey (Irvinestown) both making their debuts in  such an event  battled hard and admirably but lost 6/2 ,6/2 to their higher ranked opposition.

In the second round of matches all our players came up against top four seeds and it was here that they all suffered a defeat but not without a  battle.

Eimear lost to the hard hitting Jessica Moore  7/5  6/3 a really close first set.

Amy lost to the more experienced  Mary Parkash  (Ballyclare) 6/2  6/2,  Conan lost to Bangor player Jordan Mc Keown 6/2  6/4, Kyran gave a great account being edged out  6/4  7/6  to Caleb Ralston (Lurgan) in a match that could have gone either way.

Final matches of the first day in the Back Draw play offs Amy recorded a good win over Breige McGarry 6/3  6/2, and Grace and Oliver gave their all but again suffered a loss but not without a good effort.

Sunday saw our junior players  Battle for top a 5 place and here Kyran and Eimear really stepped up their games.

Kyran took on fast improving Peter Galt (Donaghadee ) and won a close match 7/5  7/5, he then played his best match of the weekend beating top player Rory Cunningham from  (Harwenden) 6/3  6/2 with his focus on the match immense and all that the result meant to his final ranking of 5th in Ulster.


Eimear Showed the same intensity and focus when she first beat Kathy Bannigan (Butt Hall) 6/2, 6/2 then Lily Mai Kane 6/2, 7/5  with her aggressive net play to the Fore and again a 5th place ranking very creditable for both players.

For Conan it was a frustrating day with other commitments on the day his play and focus seemed to  waver in his matches, against Rory Cunningham after a great start winning first the set  6/4 he lost eventually 10/8 in a Championship tie break,he then put in a under par performance to lose to Peter Galt  but still earned a ranking of 8th.

For Amy her final place after all her matches was 8th, Grace 9th who claimed a final round win over Briege McGarry 6/4  7/5 and Oliver showing great improvement in his final match just losing  7/5  7/6 and all three players gaining great expierence in this type of competition and all of our Fermanagh Juniors can be proud of how they performed over the weekend against some top competitors.

The Eventual Winners at the weekend and qualify for National Finals where Boys 1st Jordan McKeown Bangor, 2nd Harry Ellesmere Bangor 3rd Ross Mc Master A.T.T.
Girls 1st Mary Parkash, 2nd Jessica Moore, 3rd Jessica Leeman.

Ulster Branch President Rosamund Thompson who made an appearance on Saturday to watch all the players complemented the Irvinestown club Junior Committee for hosting the event and Hospitality shown to all the visitors also to the Service from the Bawnacre Staff for making it such a successful event  with catering and the superb facilities.

She finally thanked tournament referees Laura Mc Dowell, Martin Garrity and Director John Maguire for giving up their weekend to make sure all the Juinor competitors enjoyed their visit to Fermanagh and had a great competitive event.

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