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High-flying Sam Bothwell eyes Irish title brace

By John Flack

Sam Bothwell sensationally dumped the top seed out of the Irish Junior Championship at Fitzwilliam yesterday to book his place in this afternoon's U-18 final.

The 16-year-old from Hillsborough, who is seeded fifth, defeated Osgar O'Hoisin 6-4 7-6 to earn a meeting with second-ranked Coilin McNamara in a noon showdown today.

Bothwell attributed his success to a fortnight's intensive training at the Soto Tennis Academy in Spain where he will be continuing his studies next month.

His brother Peter is also a student at the academy and he, too, played his part in yesterday's unexpected triumph.

"I hadn't been playing or practicing much until recently as I was studying for my GCSEs but the two weeks in Spain definitely helped both mentally and physically," Sam explained. "The Academy Director Dan Kiernan worked with me and I also practiced with Peter Lewis-Burton, who is a professional ranked around 600 in the world.

"Hitting with Peter was also useful and although we play on clay courts at Soto the intensity of the training certainly helped me this week. It will be difficult against Coilin, I am sure, especially as he will have the crowd behind him but I am quietly confident going into the match."

Bothwell will team up with O'Hoisin in the U-18 doubles final against Cormac McCooey and Daniel Moloney later in the day.

There will also be Ulster interest in the girl's doubles final in which Windsor twins Annie and Caitlin McCullough will face top seeds Julia Byrne and Lauren Deegan, who are due to meet in the U-18 girl's singles decider earlier in the day.

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