Matthew and Annie lift Hardcourt titles

Matthew McClurg saw off the challenge of his younger brother, Ben, to win the Ulster Junior Hardcourt title
Matthew McClurg saw off the challenge of his younger brother, Ben, to win the Ulster Junior Hardcourt title

Annie McCullough and Matthew McClurg won the battle of the siblings at the Ulster Junior Hardcourt Championship U-18 finals at Windsor yesterday.

McCullough defeated her twin sister Caitlin 6-4, 6-2 in the girls final which, like the boys, was an all-Windsor affair.

The result was no real surprise as both girls had beaten each other before and, indeed, had a win apiece at U-16 and U-18 level last year when facing each other in the same competition.

But, in contrast, the younger of the two McClurgs had never beaten his older brother before and that record still stands - but only just.

Matthew, the top seed, had to save four match points in the second set as he eventually overcame Ben 5-7, 7-6, 6-2.

But Ben did himself proud especially considering he lost 6-0, 6-0 to Matthew in the same tournament last year.

“Ben played really well and I honestly thought I was going to lose the match when he led by a set and 6-2 in the tie break,” Matthew explained.

“But I knew I had to concentrate on one point at a time and try to win each of them and fortunately that’s what happened.

“When I broke his serve early in the third I thought I would go on and win it and Ben’s head dropped a little.”

Matthew’s win means he has completed a set of victories at every level at the Ulster Hardcourt tournament but he certainly knew he had been in a battle.

“I played the best tennis of my life but, at the same time, I am disappointed not to have won and I blew it in the tie break.” said Ben.

“Matthew was giving me plenty of stick during the match but I expected that and it didn’t put me off.

“Hopefully I can build on this performance now and take the positives out of it especially after he beat me so easily in all our previous meetings.”

The U-16 titles were won by Bangor’s Amy Rothwell and Peter Corrie (Hilden) who beat Sarah Cousins and Jordan McKeown respectively.

One of the most outstanding performances came from 10 year-old Rachel McCrum who beat the more experienced Ulster junior inter-pro player Eimear Smyth in the round-robin decider to clinch the U-14 girls trophy.

Results: Boys finals: U-18: Matthew McClurg bt Ben McClurg 5-7, 7-6, 6-2; U-16: Peter Corrie bt Jordan McKeown 6-4, 6-1; U-14: Jordan McKeown bt Harry Ellesmere 6-0, 6-1; U-12:Joshua Cree bt Freddy Murray 6-3, 6-2; U-18 doubles: Leon Gibson & Jakob Robb bt Matthew McClurg & Ryan West 7-5, 1-6, (10-6); U-14 doubles: Harry Ellesmere & Jordan McKeown bt Kyran Maguire & Will Millar 6-1, 7-5.

Girls: U-18: Annie McCullough bt Caitlin McCullough 6-4, 6-2; U-16: Amy Rothwell bt Sarah Cousins 6-3, 6-3; U-14: (round robin) winner: Rachel McCrum; U12 (round robin): winner: Chrissie Bahrani; U-18 doubles: Parveen Hariri & Arianna Kennedy bt Emma Crowe & Lucy Hamilton 6-4, 6-0; U-14: Parveen Hariri & Eimear Smythe walkover Ciara hill & Rachel McCrum scratched.