Jessica moving up in the world after junior ITF triumph
Jessica Leeman claimed her first junior ITF title when she shared success in the girls' doubles final at Malahide in Co. Dublin yesterday.
The Hawarden player teamed up with southerner Zara Ryan to overcome the second seeded Estonian pair Lissi Kubre and Gendra Raag 7-5 6-4.
The result will give the Mary Peters Trust-funded 17-year-old a real confidence-boost as she prepares for two similar events in Belfast and Dundalk over the coming fortnight.
Jessica said: "I am so happy to have won the doubles this week as I had a tough singles draw, playing the top seed in the second round.
"My partner and I played very well throughout the week and, with a better draw next week in Belfast, I think I'm playing well enough to win more singles rounds and hopefully another doubles title."
Jessica's coach, Larne man Jim Watt, added: "This was a great result for Jessica and shows that she has nothing to fear from international competition, and next week hopefully we'll see her competing for both titles.
"Today she and her partner were excellent, handled the pressure well and were simply better than their opponents. It was a great performance and hopefully the first of many to come."
Ulster Tennis Academy head coach Stuart McQuitty was delighted with Jessica's maiden success on the ITF circuit.
He said: "Jessica is a role model for everyone in the Academy and this remarkable victory is testament to the hard work she has put in over the years.
"We are fortunate to have her training with us and inspiring the next generation as they look up to a fine young woman whose ITF world ranking will now soar after this success."
Meanwhile, another local star, Peter Bothwell, will be out to add another doubles title to the local collection tonight.
The 21-year-old from Hillsborough will partner England's Lloyd Glasspool against British pair Scott Clayton and Jonny O'Mara, the top seeds in the ITF $25,000 Futures final in Dublin.
Bothwell said: "Scott and Jonny won a round at Wimbledon this year so it's a tough match for us, but there's no pressure on us and we can go out and have a good swing.
"However, in the semis we beat a pair who had a player who is 120th in the world at doubles right now, so we're moving in the right direction."