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Karola Bejenaru still in hunt for top level triumph

By John Flack

Karola Bejenaru put up a battling display in her bid to collect a first professional world ranking point yesterday but made a first round exit at the $10,000 ITF tournament in Lleida, Spain.

The 17-year-old Windsor player went down 6-4, 6-1 to the eighth seed, Justine Ozga of Germany, after coming through qualifying.

"For sure I will need more experience as this was my first such tournament and I was quite nervous going into and during the match," said Karola.

"There were quite a lot of negative thoughts going through my head so I will just need to work on this and hopefully do better next time."

In the early part of the first set Karola served several double faults and was broken by her vastly more experienced opponent.

But she did have her chances and squandered a break point at 4-3 up after earlier pouncing on the 26-year-old's serve to give herself a chance of taking the first set.

However Ozga, playing her 356th match at this level, had too much guile and fought back to hold serve and then win the next two games and the second set to take the match.

Karola's coach Przemek Stec had a positive take on her showing at the tournament.

"She did well to come through qualifying and that was an achievement in itself so it was encouraging," said the Polish-born Windsor coach.

"We also have to remember she was playing against someone who has taken part in literally hundreds of professional tournaments.

"I told her that she had to relax but sometimes that is easier said than done so we will have a chat about the mental side of her game when she comes back home next week."

Bejenaru will have an early opportunity to test herself at the same level as her next assignment is another $10,000 tournament in Madrid where she will initially take part in qualifying at the weekend and hopefully make the main draw once again.

Belfast Telegraph

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