Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Deegan stuns No.2 seed in 'best week of her life'

Belief: Lauren Deegan blasts her way to a surprise victory over No.2 seed Millie Stretton at ITF event in Belfast

Lauren Deegan walked off court after another upset victory at Windsor yesterday and declared "this is the week of my life".

Going into her clash with number two seed Millie Stretton of Great Britain, the 15-year-old Dubliner was fearing the worst, so much so that mum Karen admitted they had checked out of their hotel.

But Deegan hit the ground running with her rasping forehand and blasted her way to a 6-2 6-3 victory, setting up a semi-final clash with May Kimhi of Israel.

Deegan has played all week with real belief, defeating the number seven seed Federica Gardella on Tuesday and yesterday she left Stretton – a former ITF finalist – stunned with her aggression from the opening point to the last.

"I really went for it today, this is the best week of my tennis life – I am just playing so well and I am really looking forward to the semi-final," said Deegan, who is based at David Lloyd Riverview in Dublin.

"We had actually checked out of our hotel because I didn't think that I would get past the last round never mind today's match against the number two seed.

"I felt that from the start I was very positive and I just kept going. Now I play the girl from Israel. I haven't seen her play but to be honest it's just about me going out to play my game.

"Everything is a bonus for me now but I'd love to get to the final and I suppose if I do it would probably be against Karola which would be great."

The bubbly teen, who has never been this far in an ITF before, is hoping that she can kick on and long term possibly make the step of going to an American university to play college tennis which is becoming a viable option for more and more Irish players. Indeed, Meath's Caroline Lynch, playing doubles this week, is off to Yale in September to play Division One college tennis.

"I'm keeping my options open but I am thinking about maybe going to America, the college circuit is a very good way of developing your game," added Deegan.

For now, Deegan's focus is on her last four clash with Israeli Kimhi, the number six seed, who defeated Poland's Klaudia Wira 6-2 6-3. While Kimhi had little trouble in defeating the Pole, Deegan's power should provide her with a tougher test today.

Meanwhile, Irish interest in the boys event ended when Peter Bothwell and Osgar O'Hoisin exited the tournament. Hillsborough lad Bothwell, a finalist at the ITF event in Edinburgh last month, made a promising start when he had two break points on British lad Luke Oakley's opening service game. Oakley, though, dug his way out of trouble to hold and they continued on serve until 5-5.

Left hander Oakley comfortably held to go 6-5 ahead and then took advantage of Bothwell's unforced errors to take the opening set 7-5.

Bothwell then placed two volleys into the net before a mishit handed Oakley the crucial break of serve. Oakley was now in the ascendency and he never allowed the 17-year-old back into the match, taking the second set 6-2.

The number five seed will now face the number two Ben Stride in the semi-finals which are made up of four British players.

Stride brought Irish lad O'Hoisin's run to an end after an early scare, winning 5-7 6-2 6-2.

The most entertaining boys quarter-final saw top seed Mason Recci under immediate pressure from Belarussian qualifier Uladzimir Dorash who sent down some very heavy serves and forehand winners to take opening set 6-3.

A few disputed calls seemed to get under the skin of Dorash who lost focus and Recci capitalised, returning the ball very well to take the next two sets 6-3 6-1.

Lucas Taylor won the other quarter-final, defeating Sam Rice 7-6 6-2.

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