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An up and down day leaves Ulster with a tough task

By John Flack

Ulster had mixed fortunes on day one of the under-18 inter-provincial tournament in Castlebar yesterday. They whitewashed their Connacht hosts 6-0, but fell to a 4-2 defeat against Munster to leave their title hopes hanging in the balance.

Ulster play an extremely strong Leinster side today and will need a win to have any chance of lifting the trophy with Munster expected toovercome Connacht easily in the other match.

Top Ulster singles player Karola Bejanaru is still recovering from a hamstring injury and is only taking part in the doubles.

Leinster are parading several of the players who took part in the recent ITF tournaments at Windsor, including girls singles winner Georgia Drummy, runner up Lauren Deegan and boys' finalist Osgar O'Hoisin.

Yesterday, Lucy Octave, playing at number one singles, and the doubles pairing of Bejanaru and Laura Reid were the Ulster winners against Munster.

Ulster coach Sam Armstrong shuffled his pack for the Connacht match and his team proved too strong although Reid was involved in a close contest as she overcame Dearbhaile Roe 5-7, 7-6, 6-2.

Heather Watson was unable to celebrate returning to the top 50 with victory as she was beaten in the opening round of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

The British number one reached 46 in the latest rankings, released yesterday, thanks to her run to the third round in Montreal last week.

She qualified comfortably in Cincinnati, but came out on the wrong side of a topsy-turvy clash with China's Zhang Shuai, losing 6-3 2-6 7-5.

It has nevertheless been a good couple of weeks for the Guernsey player, who will now turn her attention to preparing for the US Open, which begins on August 25.

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