A 4-2 win over Connacht at the David Lloyd Centre in Dundonald on Saturday proved decisive as Ulster clinched third place at the senior inter-provincial tournament which was won by Leinster.
It was a close run thing as the final doubles partnership of Aaron Stubbs and Karl Donaldson had to win their match or the contest would have ended in a 3-3 draw.
That outcome would have left the hosts sweating on other results later in the day and the wooden spoon would have been a possibility.
As it turned out the point claimed by the men’s doubles pair proved crucial as Connacht went on to pick up one of their own in losing 6-1 to Munster.
Ulster were parading a depleted team as several players were unavailable for one reason or another.
So third place was not a bad return considering Munster and Leinster were able to field stronger teams.
In that important doubles match against Connacht, Stubbs and Donaldson had to dig deep in a tense encounter which ebbed and flowed and ended up as a three-setter.
The Ulster pair eventually defeated Garrett Barry and Eoghan O’Dea 6-7, 7-5, 6-3 to save the day.
Ulster’s other winners against Connacht were Alex Watt, Lucy Octave and Emily Beatty, all of whom won their singles matches.
Leinster beat Munster 5-1 in Saturday’s other early match to move closer to retaining the trophy and they went on to retain it by beating Ulster 6-0.
Watt was involved in a close contest with Ed Seator and after making it a set apiece he lost on a 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 score line.
The ladies doubles also went the distance as Beatty and Kerri Russell went down 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 to Sinead Kennedy and Tanya Murtagh while the three singles and men’s doubles were decided in two sets.
The under-strength Ulster team had been beaten 5-1 by Munster in their opening match on Friday night when Lucy Octave was the only winner.
Results:Friday: Leinster 6 Connacht 0; Ulster 1 Munster 5 (Ulster names first): Alex Watt lost to Paul Fitzgerald 6-3, 7-6; Lucy Octave bt Aisling O’Riordan 6-1, 6-4; Aaron Stubbs lost to Morgan Lohan 6-4, 4-6, 6-2; Laura Reid lost to Niamh Coveney 6-1, 7-5; Gordon Watt & Ben Fetherston lost to Dave Gardiner & Hubert Marville 6-1, 6-2; Megan McGreevy & Kerri Russell lost to Joanne Williamson & Emily Daly 6-1, 0-6, 7-6.
Saturday: Leinster 5 Munster 1; Ulster 1 Munster 5; Alex Watt bt Philip King 7-6, 6-3; Lucy Octave bt Kellie O’Flynn 6-3, 6-3; Gareth McGreevey lost to Sean Coughlan 6-2, 6-4; Emily Beatty bt Dearbhaile Roe 6-2, 6-4; Ben Fetherston & Aaron Stubbs bt Garrett Barry & Eoghan O’Dea 6-7, 7-5, 6-3; Kerri Russell & Megan McGreevy lost to Dee Collins & Marian Hanley 6-4, 6-3. Munster 6 Connacht 1; Ulster 0 Leinster 6: Watt lost to Ed Seator 6-4, 2-6, 6-1; Octave lost to Jenny Claffey 6-1, 6-2; Reid lost to Grainne O’Neill 6-2, 6-2; Stubbs lost to Brendan Dempsey 6-4, 6-2; McGreevy & Fetherston lost to Mark Carpenter & Fergus O’Connell 6-2, 6-2; Beatty & Russell lost to Sinead Kennedy & Tanya Murtagh 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.
Final placings: 1. Leinster 17 pts; 2. Munster 11; 3. Ulster 5; 4. Connacht 3.
Meanwhile Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will contest the Rogers Cup final after comfortable semi-final wins and they will look top get their hands on trophy.