Referee Ben Neal pays tribute to spirited Junior players

Mathew and Ben  McClurg pictured with their trophies

Mathew and Ben McClurg pictured with their trophies

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Tournament referee Ben Neal paid tribute to all the players who took part in the Clubworld Travel Ulster junior championship finals on Saturday in appalling weather at the Boat Club.

It was something of a miracle that the matches took place at all as the heavy rain made the courts treacherous.

At one stage Neal was contemplating calling the whole thing off but, mercifully, the rain eased as the day wore on.

“All credit to the kids who just went out and played without a single complaint.” said Neal.

“I had considered moving the finals to Sunday at one point but it wouldn’t have been possible as many of the players had other plans.”

Windsor’s Matthew McClurg beat Noah Fleming 6-0, 2-6, 6-3 in the boys U-18 final while Dundalk visitor Copas beat Annie McCullough 6-2, 6-1 in the U-18 girls decider.

The heavy rain caused several interruptions to most of the matches as play was suspended due to flooding but McClurg made light of the conditions to win the title.

“It was pretty bad out there and it was difficult holding the racquet at times so I was just happy to have got the win.” he said.

It was Matthew’s second title having won the U-18 trophy two years ago while his younger brother Ben completed a family double in the U-16 event.

Ben defeated Ballymena player Matthew Robinson 6-1, 6-7, 6-3 in a match eventually decided after four rain breaks.

“It was my first title at the Boat Club after I had lost several finals before at U-12 and U-14 level so it was good to get a win at last.” said Ben.

Earlier in the day top seed Rachel Collins from Dublin won the corresponding girls title with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Lydia Kelly in appalling conditions.

Jessica Leeman captured the U-14 trophy with a close fought three sets win over Mary Parkash.

The Hawarden ace overcame the second seed after recovering from a set down to win on a 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 score line.

Jordan McKeown claimed the U-16 title with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Harry Ellesmere.

At U12 level Dylan Leeman beat Freddy Murray 6-2, 6-2 while the girls title was won by Rachel McCrum on a walk over.

Clubworld Travel Ulster junior championship results

Boys Finals – U12: Dylan Leeman bt Harry Ellesmere 6-2, 6-2.

U-14: Jordan McKeown bt Harry Ellesmere 6-2, 6-1.

U-16: Ben McClurg bt Matthew Robinson 6-1, 6-7, 6-3.

U-18: Matthew McClurg bt Noah Fleming 6-0, 2-6, 6-3.

Doubles – U-14: Rory Cunningham & Caleb Ralston bt Jacob Fleming & Kyran Maguire 3-6, 7-5, (10-7).

U-18: Noah Fleming & Ryan West bt Benjamin Cree & Leon Gibson 6-3, 7-6.

Girls finals – U-12: Rachel McCrum w/o Grace Smith scr.

U-14: Jessica Leeman bt Mary Parkash 4-6, 6-1, 6-1; U-16: Rachel Collins bt Lydia Kelly 6-3, 6-2.

U-18: Ruth Copas bt Annie McCullough 6-2, 6-1.

Doubles – U-14: Chrissie Bahrani & Parveen Hariri 7-6, 6-4.

U-18: Aoibhinn Kelly & Amy Rothwell bt Alexandra Adams & Katherine Hill 6-3, 7-5.

U-18 mixed doubles: Benjamin Cree & Aoibhinn Kelly bt Ben McClurg & Arianna Kennedy 7-6, 6-3.

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