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Ulster girls make their mark

By David Kelly

Donaghadee's Lucy Octave was the top Ulster performer at the Irish under-18 matchplays in Dublin at the weekend.

Octave, the Ulster Open under-18 champion, came through a tough semi-final to face Dundalk's Ruth Copas in the decider.

The 16-year-old held her nerve against Aoife Tonna-Barthet, coming from a set down to triumph 2-6 6-1 10-8 in the Champions tie-break.

In the other half of the draw, Copas had the edge over Hillsborough's Emily Beatty, 6-3 7-5 and she then took the matchplay title with a 6-4 6-1 victory over Octave.

Beatty – like Octave, a member of the Ulster College squad – then engaged in arguably the match of the weekend in the Tennis Ireland complex at DCU with Tonna-Barthet in the third place play-off.

As they engaged in numerous long baseline rallies, with little between the two throughout the match, Beatty took third spot with a 7-6 (7) 7-5 victory.

Another Ulster College member, Laura Reid placed fifth after defeating Janeen Laabei, 6-1 6-1.

In the boys under-18s, the best placed Ulster player was Comber's Matthew McClurg – also a member of the Ulster squad.

McClurg placed fifth after a comfortable 6-2 6-4 victory over Shane Edward O'Dea.

Ulster College tennis coach Sam Armstrong said: "I am very pleased with how the College guys performed at the weekend. There were a lot of encouraging performances and I was particularly pleased with Lucy, Emily and Laura.

"The College squad has only been going since September but already we have seen some good improvements.

"They have responded to the intensity and we are developing a good camaraderie among the players which is something new for many of them."

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