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Bothwell brothers bow out on poor day for Ulster young guns

 

By John Flack

Hillsborough brothers Sam and Peter Bothwell made a first round exit at the $25,000 world ranking tournament in Dublin yesterday.

On a disappointing day all round for local tennis players, juniors Jordan McKeown and Jessica Leeman lost in the second round at the ITF event in Malahide.

None of the Ulster quartet had the benefit of being drawn against unseeded opponents and all four of them will be hoping for better fortune in the coming weeks.

The Bothwells will have another chance to climb up the rankings when they take part in a similar competition in Dublin next week while McKeown and Leeman will be contesting the second of three junior tournaments in Belfast, starting at Windsor at the weekend.

Sam Bothwell was first in action at Carrickmines and he gave as good as he got for much of his match with Scottish opponent Jonny O'Mara before bowing out on a 6-3, 7-5 scoreline.

Incredibly, the first three games of the opening set took all of 31 minutes to complete and then eighth seed O'Mara grabbed a crucial break of serve in the eighth.

Sam, at 19 the younger of the brothers, saved two break points when 15-40 down but lost out on the third and the Scot served out to take the first set.

It was nip and tuck for most of the next but O'Mara was marginally the more consistent of the pair and he advanced to the last 32, having picked up a valuable world ranking point in the process.

Then it was the turn of 21-year-old Peter to take centre stage but he fell to a disappointing 6-3, 6-4 defeat against Birmingham man Lloyd Glasspool, who went into the tournament as the fifth seed.

Bothwell said: "I know Lloyd pretty well both off and on the court as we have practised together many times and he is actually partnering me in the doubles in the two Dublin events.

"It was disappointing to lose but I have been happy with my form in recent weeks, having attained a career-best ranking, so I am looking forward to the next tournament in Dublin when, hopefully, I can go further and get a point or two," Peter explained.

Glasspool is perhaps better known as the boyfriend of Grand Slam regular Heather Watson but his win over Bothwell will at least give him a chance to make a name for himself on court later in the week against some of the top players in Ireland and further afield.

Meanwhile, a few miles away at Malahide, McKeown and Leeman were not blessed with favourable draws either as both bowed out of the last 16 in the junior tournament.

McKeown, who had come through qualifying, was up against the third seed David Cierny, of Slovakia, but the 17-year-old from Co Down gave a good account of himself nonetheless.

McKeown took a very closely contested first set into a tie-break which he lost 7-5 and produced a battling display in the second before eventually losing 7-6, 6-3.

Hawarden player Leeman had an even tougher draw in the girls' event being pitted against the top-seeded Federation Cup player Anna Bowtell and she fell to a 6-3, 6-1 loss against a more experienced opponent.

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