Tennis: Bothwell takes Junior title

Sam Bothwell
Sam Bothwell

Sam Bothwell is on cloud nine today after securing the Under 18 boys singles title at the Irish Junior Championship in Dublin at the weekend.

The Hillsborough teenager once again defied the odds as he defeated second seed Coilin McNamara 1-6, 7-5, 7-5 in the final.

In Friday’s semi-final the 16 year-old Ulster boy beat top seed Osgar O’Hoisin to reach the show piece.

Earlier, at the quarter final stage, he had defeated another player ranked higher in the shape of Irish-American Vuk Budic as he made light of his fifth seeding.

The 16 year-old will be heading to the continent next month as he continues his studies and his tennis at the Soto Academy in Spain.

It didn’t look good though in Saturday’s final as McNamara made a blistering start and made short work of winning the first set.

“Coilin started at such a high level of tennis but I believed if I could hang on to him I could do it.” Sam added.

“But I managed to sustain my level all through the match and really upped my intensity and went after his serve when I was 5-4 and 6-5 up in the third set.”

Sam, who is funded by the Mary Peters Trust, can now add the U-18 trophy to the U-12 title he won in the same event a few years ago.

His performances over the past week were superb as he knuckled down to some tough practice sessions after a slow start to the summer due to GCSE examinations.

Sam made a first round exit in the City of Belfast ITF tournament at Windsor but his semi final and final wins at Fitzwilliam demonstrated that all the hard work has paid off.

At the ITF tournament O’Hoisin was the top seed and went on to reach the final so that win coupled with his victory in the decider shows that Bothwell is back to his top form.

Unfortunately he was unable to add the U-18 doubles title to his collection when he teamed up with O’Hoisin as the pair fell to a 6-1, 6-4 defeat to Cormac McCooey & Daniel Moloney.

But that certainly didn’t take the gloss off a superb week for the talented teenager as he prepares to travel to Spain with the most prestigious trophy in Irish junior tennis on the mantle piece.

The McCullough sisters, Caitlin and Annie, did brilliantly to reach their second major doubles final in the space of a few weeks as they booked their place in the U-18 decider after a similar achievement at the ITF tournament.

However the Windsor twins, who had defied the seeding to get to the decider, fell short as they went down 6-1, 6-3 to top-ranked Dublin pair of Lauren Deegan and Julie Byrne.

Selected results: boys u-18 final: Sam Bothwell bt Coilin McNamara 1-6, 7-5, 7-5; boys U-18 doubles final: Cormac McCooey & Daniel Moloney bt Bothwell & Osgar O’Hoisin 6-1, 6-4; girls U-18 doubles final: Lauren Deegan & Julie Byrne bt Caitlin & Annie McCullough 6-1, 6-3.