Sky's the limit for promising teenager Harry Ellesmere
Harry Ellesmere has more than one reason to be cheerful these days as he continues to rise both in stature and up the rankings.
The towering Bangor teenager recently secured the Irish number one spot at Under-14 level after some stunning performances in the south.
Victories in two prestigious tournaments in Dublin have propelled him to the top of the tree at national level.
And, in another boost, he has signed a sponsorship deal with racket sport equipment suppliers Babalot which will provide valuable in-kind support with rackets, strings, clothing and footwear all supplied as part of the package.
Ellesmere therefore finds himself in illustrious company as the firm also supports a host of Grand Slam stars including Rafael Nadal and Caroline Wozniacki to name but a few.
Harry, who recently turned 14, says he owes a lot to his coach Gordon Watt, who works at the AGP set-up in Bangor.
The appreciation is mutual and Watt, who is a current Ulster senior inter-provincial player, says the sky's the limit for his protege. "Harry has really come on in the last few months and he works extremely hard at his game - he trains for up to 20 hours a week at this time of the year and for around 15 hours when he's at school," says Watt.
"He has a great future ahead of him and he can do anything he wants within the sport as long as he continues to work hard which I have no doubt he will.
"His height is a big advantage and even at such a young age he is six feet tall and still growing which helps him get in a big serve which is one of his main strengths.
"But the biggest improvements in the last year or so have been his increased maturity and mental strength which is something we have been working hard on.
"It's a matter of getting him to stick to a game-plan in the knowledge that sometimes it will work and sometimes it won't and if that's the case we modify it and move on."
Harry's longer-term ambition is to secure a place on a tennis scholarship in the United States once he has finished his secondary education. "If he maintains his progress there is no reason why he can't get fixed up at a division one college," Watt said.
"In the shorter-term Harry's aim will be to win his age-group at the Irish Junior Open at Fitzwilliam which is certainly an achievable target I believe.
"Before that he will be competing at the Clubworld Ulster Junior Open at the Boat Club later this month when he will be attempting to go one better that last year when he was runner-up in the U-14 event."
Ulster players Dylan Leeman and Freddy Murray won titles at their respective events in Cork and Dundalk at the weekend.
Leeman, who plays for Hawarden, defeated Zak Murphy in three sets (6-0, 3-6, 6-0) to lift the Under-12 trophy at the Munster Junior Open tournament.
Murray (David Lloyd) was also a winner at U-12 level as he scored an impressive 6-1, 6-2 success over Ballymena player Caolan McCarroll in the Louth Junior Open final in Dundalk.