Laura Reid's delight at point well made
If ever you wanted to know how much winning a first ranking point at this level means to a young tennis player, the joy and relief in the face of Laura Reid revealed it all.
Just like every Ulster player who makes the step-up to this level, the 15-year-old has found it tough going after years of relative success at under-14 but yesterday at the Topaz-sponsored Belfast City event at Windsor Tennis club she made her breakthrough against Brazilian Karolayne Alexandre Da Rosa.
A marathon three-setter, interrupted by heavy rain, was eventually won by the Belfast girl 5-7 6-4 6-2. Immediately, with a few tears of joy, she made her way into the on-site physio for treatment to a back problem which was causing her increasing discomfort throughout the final set.
"To get my first point was just amazing, it was tough emotionally and physically – it was a case of no pain, no gain," said Aquinas Grammar girl Reid.
"The back was a problem, particularly at the start of the third set. It was sore last week and then it went away but it came back today – maybe after one of my falls. It was getting tough to serve, when I was pushing up I could really feel it but I really wanted that point and I had to keep going – some of my forehands were sore as well when I went to hit it hard I could feel it.
"I'm just so relieved, hopefully now I can enjoy the rest of the tournament because the pressure is off after getting my first point. It's a big change at this level, moving from under-14s because the weight of the shot is that much heavier."
Reid had been 5-4 up and serving for the opening set but credit to Rosa as she held her nerve and broke back before going on to take the set. Reid broke immediately but then the 15-year-old Brazilian broke back before at 2-2 a blast of thunder and lightning followed by heavy rain delayed their match and it was the Belfast girl who was clearly more at ease on the now slippery surface. Reid raced into a 5-2 lead as she became more aggressive with her ground strokes and in particular her backhand down the line proved very effective.
Credit, though, to the Brazilian as she broke back and then held to get to within a game. Reid, though, produced one of her better service games to close out the set. The momentum was with Reid and she broke immediately and generally throughout the final set she was getting the better of the long baseline rallies, pummelling her opponent's backhand.
"I think the rain delay helped me a lot more than her – she's not used to the surface and the rain made it tough for her," added Reid.
Downshire's Emily Beatty also picked up her first ITF point when she defeated American Alyssa Mayo 6-4 6-1 under the Windsor floodlights – walking off court at 10pm.
Meanwhile, number one seed Karola Bejenaru cruised through to the second round with a 6-0 6-0 victory over Austrian Lisa Friess.
Bejenaru, playing in bright sunshine, pounded her opponent into submission with a relentless barrage from start to finish.
Bejenaru's coach Przemek Stec said: "I'm very pleased with how Karola handled the occasion because I know from experience that playing a weaker player can cause you problems, particularly when everybody expects you to win."
Bejenaru, winner of the Donnybrook event at the weekend, added: "I felt good out there, I felt I was striking my ground strokes very cleanly but I have a bit of work to do on my serve – I'll have a tough test in the second round against Holly Horsfall."
Dubliner Julie Byrne had a fine victory as she defeated the number eight seed from Belgium, Luna Meers 6-2 6-3.