There were no major upsets on the opening night of the Keys Finance Ulster Senior Championship last night at the Boat Club when the bulk of the action was focused on men’s singles qualifying.
The eight seeds won’t start their campaigns until later in the week and the qualifers will continue this evening as club players and aspiring juniors aim for a place in the last 16.
Several players made it through last night including Ireland veteran international Jimmy Wilson who will now face the daunting task of facing last year’s runner up.
The Boat Club stalwart, now aged 60, was looking good for a win in conventional circumstances when his opponent John Mongan from Ballynafeigh had to quit with a knee injury when trailing 5-7, 1-3.
Wilson’s win earns him a meeting with Donaghadee man Aaron Stubbs who lost to Poland’s Przemek Stec in last year’s showpiece.
Ulster under 14 inter-pro player Peter Corrie, of the Hilden club, had a good 6-3, 7-6 victory over Hungarian man Laszlo Olah to set up a date with another of the Donaghadee contingent, Stephen McCausland.
Both players took some time to settle down in an error strewn first set but the teenager was the more consistent of the pair and he went ahead after a series of lengthy games.
The second set saw both players in better form and games went with serve although the Hungarian missed a chance to square the match when he lost a break point at 6-5 up.
Corrie held his nerve to send the match into a tie break which he won 7-3 to progress to the last 16 in which McCausland is seeded eighth.
On an adjacent court another junior in the shape of David Lloyd club member, Ben McClurg also beat a more experienced opponent in Boat Club’s Calum Hagan.
But it was a close run thing as, in a match lasting more than two and a half hours, McClurg prevailed on a 7-6, 6-7, 7-5 score line.
McClurg has another qualifying game to play as he now meets David Liggett with a place in the first round proper at stake.
Enniskillen player Matthew McGann is through to the last 16 after defeating Daniel Fleming-Cairo 6-4, 6-4 to advance.
Michael Blease is another player whose victory last night saw him through to the last 16 but he has a difficult task ahead after defeating Chris Neil-smith 6-1, 6-3.
Blease now has the unenviable challenge of playing three times winner Przemek Stec who won the title in 2010, 2011 and 2012 but didn’t defend his title 12 months ago.
Results: men’s Championship qualifying: Peter Corrie bt Laszlo Olah 6-3, 7-6; Matthew McGann bt Daniel Fleming-Cairo 6-4, 6-4; Ross McCarey bt Thomas Nallapalli 6-0, 6-1; Ben McClurg bt Calum Hagan 7-6, 6-7, 7-5; Jimmy Wilson bt John Mongan 7-5, 6-3 ret. Michael Blease bt Chris Neil-Smith 6-1, 6-3; men’s B singles: L. McMahon bt R. Pathka 6-0, 6-0; J. Hudson bt B. Thomas 6-0, 6-1; P. McCrum bt J. Copeland 6-2, 6-2; D. Burns bt D. Szajstec 6-1, 6-1. S. McDowell bt M. McBride 6-3, 6-1.