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Depleted Ulster can't find vital tennis spark

By John Flack

Ulster fell to a 5-1 defeat against Munster in their opening senior inter-provincial match at the David Lloyd Centre in Dundonald last night.

With title holders and tournament favourites Leinster whitewashing Connacht 6-0, the hosts will, realistically, be aiming to defeat the latter today to avoid the wooden spoon.

Lucy Octave was the only winner as the depleted Ulster team were second best to Munster despite some battling displays in the other singles and doubles rubbers as two of them went to a third set.

Sixteen-year-old Octave continued her impressive season which has included senior victories at the Boat Club and Omagh along with her first two singles victories in the ITF junior ranking tournament at Windsor, as she beat Aisling O'Riordan 6-1 6-4.

That win squared the match at 1-1 after number one men's singles player Alex Watt had gone down 6-3 7-6 to Paul Fitzgerald.

Watt had his chances, notably when he had two break points at 5-5 in the second set, but his opponent prevailed in a tie-break to win.

"I was happy enough with the way I played but he was more aggressive on the bigger points while I was a little bit tentative," said Hilden player Watt.

Results: Leinster 6 Connacht 0; Ulster 1 Munster 5 (Ulster names first): Alex Watt lost to Paul Fitzgerald 6-3, 7-6; Lucy Octave bt Aisling O'Riordan 6-1, 6-4; Aaron Stubbs lost to Morgan Lohan 6-4, 4-6, 6-2; Laura Reid lost to Niamh Coveney 6-1, 7-5; Gordon Watt & Ben Fetherston lost to Dave Gardiner & Hubert Marville 6-1, 6-2; Megan McGreevy & Kerri Russell lost to Joanne Williamson & Emily Daly 6-1, 0-6, 7-6.

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