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Sweet sixteen for rising tennis star Karola Bejenaru

By John Flack

Karola Bejenaru made a major breakthrough yesterday when as she collected her first senior world ranking point with a first round win at the $10,000 ITF tournament in Madrid.

The 17-year-old Windsor player defied the odds to beat Spain's Ivonne Cavalle-Reimers 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to reach the last 16 of a pro-tour tournament for the first time.

The Majorcan was ranked 643 in the world going into the match and this was her 176th contest at this level whereas it was only the second time the Romanian had reached the main draw of a $10,000 tournament.

Unsurprisingly, Karola was delighted by her success which will see her achieve a world ranking for the first time at adult level.

"It feels great to have taken the first step onto the ladder, so now that I have done it, I am delighted." said Bejanaru, who had lost at the first hurdle in another tournament in Spain last week.

"I was a bit nervous at the start of the match but then I was okay and I think the experience of last week helped me a lot.

"I have learned from my mistakes and tried not to repeat them and it worked for me, fortunately."

After games had gone with serve until 2-2 in the first set, the Belfast-based Romanian had two break points at 15-40 in the third.

The Spaniard saved them both but Bejanaru took the next two points to make a crucial breakthrough and lead 3-2 and she eventually served out to 15 in the ninth game to take the set.

The players exchanged breaks in the second set but Bejanaru lost her own serve to 30 at 4-5 as Cavalle-Reimers squared the match.

Bejenaru came back from 40-15 down to break and go 3-2 up in the third set and, after subsequent games went with serve, she held to 15 in the 10th to take the match.

She faces the top seeded Greek player Maria Sakkar, ranked 287, in the second round today.

"It will be a tough match against a more experienced girl but I will try and focus and fight hard for every point," Karola added.

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