Knox on the up as he digs deep to land Ulster title
Alasdair Knox showed his mettle to land the under-18 title at the Ulster Spring Matchplays at Belfast Boat Club.
The Bangor lad had to come through two tight battles in the semi-finals and final against Adghal MacMahon and David Weir to triumph and now he has his sights set on making an impact at the Irish Matchplays at the end of the month.
Knox, coached by Paul Watt in Bangor, edged out Enniskillen lad MacMahon 6-4, 7-6 in a tight duel from start to finish and that set up a battle with Ulster squad member David Weir, also from Bangor.
The two lads engaged in some fine rallies with Knox taking the opening set 6-4, but then the momentum swung the way of Weir, who took the second 7-5 and that set up a deciding Champions tie-break. Knox got his nose in front and took the tie-break and title, 10-6.
Coach Watt said: "Ali has been making many changes to his game to allow him to compete with the top Irish players and winning his first Ulster Matchplay title will give him a lot of confidence.
"Ali's now equipped with a bigger serve and bigger ground strokes and he's a good athlete so I think he'll have a promising year.
"Now he has the Irish Matchplays coming up, so hopefully he can make progress there as well."
The girls under-18 title also went to north Down when Lucy Octave (below) of the Donaghadee club came out on top following a battle of the Ulster squad in the semi-finals.
Octave didn't have it her own way in the last four and had to fight back from a set down to defeat Windsor's Laura Reid 4-6, 6-3, 10-4, to set up a final clash with Hillsborough's Emily Beatty.
Beatty also had to dig deep to make the decider, defeating another Windsor girl, Caitlin McCullough 3-6, 7-5, 10-7 in arguably the match of the weekend.
In the decider, Octave started brightly and comfortably took the opening set 6-2, but Beatty raised her game in the second though the Donaghadee teenager still took it 7-6 to take the title.
Reid defeated Windsor clubmate McCullough 6-3, 4-6 10-5 to take third spot.
The boys under-12 title went to Windsor's Josh Moore, while Rachel McCrum won the girls under-12s.