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Ciara ruins Emily's homecoming with upset in Downshire

 

By John Flack

Teenage sensation Ciara Hill produced a major upset at the Johnston Campbell North of Ireland Open championship in Hillsborough last night when she dumped out Ulster senior inter-pro ace Emily Beatty to become the first player to qualify for the ladies singles quarter-finals.

The 14-year-old progressed on a 6-2, 6-3 scoreline against Beatty (20), who was playing on her home courts at Downshire after returning home from a tennis scholarship in Alabama for the summer.

Hill will now meet second seed Marie-Perla Biansumba in the last eight tomorrow night, having lost to former Irish Federation Cup player Lynsey McCullough last year at the same stage.

Beatty was magnanimous in defeat saying: "Ciara played lovely tennis from the outset and I didn't get a chance to get into the match."

"She will be a force to be reckoned with at this tournament and throughout the summer and I wish her well for the next round."

On a night of surprises, Beatty's Ulster inter-pro team mate Laura Reid also crashed out, losing 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 to Ballynafeigh's Christine Duncan in a marathon two-and-a-half hour battle.

Meanwhile, Stephen McCausland will be hoping to draw inspiration from his hero Roger Federer when he faces Bangor teenager Jordan McKeown in the final round of qualifying for the men's singles event tonight.

McCausland not only had the privilege of meeting his idol, but he actually shared a room with the 18-times Grand Slam winner when the pair were teenagers.

He explained: "Like Roger, I spent some time training at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida when I was a kid and we ended up in the same accommodation on-site."

"He was a total young gentleman and he actually made me tea and toast on several occasions in the apartment that we shared.

"To me he was just a teenage Swiss guy and obviously I had no idea then what he would go on to achieve but he's been a real hero to me ever since.

"I never got a chance to get to see him play when we were in Florida as we would go off in our separate coaching groups, but I've seen him at Wimbledon without ever meeting him in the flesh again as it's impossible to get anywhere near the players so I don't know if he would remember me to be honest."

While Federer eventually went on to become a multi-millionaire, McCausland hasn't quite acquired such a level of fame and fortune, although he is currently the Ulster number one at over-35 level.

The 36-year-old is employed as a part-time coach at the Belfast Indoor Tennis Centre and he is very familiar with tonight's opponent.

McCausland added: "I practice with Jordan every week in Bangor and he's a super prospect who works very hard at his game, so he's going to be extremely difficult to beat."

"Having left school to concentrate on tennis, he's probably a lot more match-ready than I am and I will need to be at my very best to have a chance of beating him, but I will give it a go and see where it takes me."

Belfast Telegraph

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