Belfast Telegraph

Karola and Dylan seal Irish delight

By John Flack

Karola Bejenaru finished the year on a high note as she lifted the women's singles title at the Irish National Senior Championship in Dublin yesterday.

The top-seeded Windsor player did so in style as she raced to a comprehensive 6-1 6-2 win over Julie Byrne to win the tournament for the first time.

Also in Dublin, Dylan Leeman made it a double success for the province as he claimed the Under-12 title at the David Lloyd National Junior tournament.

The Hawarden player also had an impressive victory as he overcame Tipperary boy Zachary Murphy 6-2 6-2 to repeat his recent National Match Play final win over the same opponent.

Both yesterday's winners have set themselves ambitious targets for the new year and, after experiencing mixed fortunes over the last 12 months, Bejenaru is planning to compete on the professional circuit.

She had her problems with injury last year and had to miss out on the chance to defend her title at the ITF junior tournament at Windsor in the summer.

The talented teenager failed to recover in time for the senior inter-pros and then was only deemed fit enough to take part in the doubles at the junior series.

But earlier in the season, she enjoyed considerable success on the ITF junior tour and made an appearance at Junior Wimbledon qualifying, only to lose at the first hurdle.

She then secured her first world ranking point at adult level in October when she won her first round match at a $10,000 tournament in Madrid and now she wants more of the same.

"I have certainly had my ups and downs in 2014 but it was great to finish on a high by winning in Dublin and I played well all week," explained the Romania-born star.

"In January I will be competing in two ITF junior ranking tournaments in the Czech Republic and Slovakia but then I want to concentrate on the senior circuit and get some more points.

"It was frustrating at times in 2014 with my hamstring problems so hopefully I can stay injury free throughout 2015."

Leeman, meanwhile, is hoping for something similar in the new year and hopes to use yesterday's success as a springboard.

His coach, Jim Watt, said: "Dylan went to Dublin to prove that he is the best player in his age group in Ireland and he certainly did that.

"His school, RBAI, have been very good at letting him go to Dublin three days a week for national squad training and now all his hard work has definitely paid off.

"In 2015, he will play in Under-12 events mainly but he will revert back to Under-10 level for the Irish Junior Open at Fitzwilliam and try and win that."

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