Net gains for rising stars of tennis
Ulster girls Laura Reid and Karola Bejenaru brought in the New Year in perfect style when they enjoyed title glory at the Wilson Irish Indoor championships in Dublin.
Aquinas Grammar girl Reid (14) lifted the under-16 title in emphatic fashion, when she defeated Lauren Deegan 6-2 6-2 before cheering on east Belfast teenager Bejenaru to under-18 success. Reid’s win came just two weeks after winning the Irish Matchplay title.
Bejenaru, the second youngest winner of the Irish under-18 championships in the summer at Fitzwilliam, became one of the youngest ever winners of the Indoor title in David Lloyd Riverview at just 15 when she fought back to triumph in an exciting three-setter with Dubliner Nicola Drummy, 2-6 6-4 6-2.
Having lost a three-hour women's senior semi-final the night before as well as the women's doubles final when playing with Lucy Octave, Bejenaru unsurprisingly looked a little stale in the opening set against Dubliner Drummy.
Gradually Orangefield High School teenager Bejenaru found her form and took the next two sets to take the title and complete a fine year of success.
“I am very pleased to win the under-18 title. I was hoping I could win the women's as well but I just lost it in a tight third set the night before against Jane Fennelly,” said Bejenaru, whose Windsor club coach Przemek Stec was delighted with the character she displayed.
Stec said: “Karola at times wasn't at her best this week but she dug deep and showed her mental strength to recover from a very long day on the court on Sunday to win the under-18 title against a tough opponent.
“Karola has had a good year and this was a nice way to finish. She can now look ahead to 2013 when we want her to improve her European ranking.
“Karola is part of the full-time elite Windsor squad that was only started in September and all seven players in it have made good progress.”
For Boat Club girl Reid it was another excellent week, having come through a hard three-set semi-final with Julie Byrne 24 hours earlier.
Reid said: “I had a very tough semi-final with Julie Byrne which I did well to come through.
“Lauren and Julie have a similar style so it was a case of just keep doing what I was doing and it paid off. It was a great way to end the year and I am looking forward to competing on the European stage in 2013.”
It is little wonder that Reid enjoys the Riverview stage as over the past four years she has now won under-12, under-14 and under-16 titles.
Fennelly, who defeated Bejenaru in the last four, went on to lift the women’s title with a 6-2 7-6 victory over Holly Monahan, while the men’s title went to Colin O’Brien who defeated John Morrissey in a thriller, 6-3 1-6 7-6.
Another exciting final came in the under-14 girls when Dubliner Georgia Drummy — ranked 400 in Europe — came from 1-6 0-3 down to win the next two sets 7-5 6-2.