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Ben McClurg's dream of double victory is shattered

Ben McClurg's dream of winning the province's two major under age tournaments was shattered yesterday with an unexpected defeat at the Ulster Junior Hard Court Championship at Windsor.

The Campbell College student became the first seeded casualty in the tournament as he crashed to a 7-6, 6-3 loss against Dublin visitor Philip Lynch in the U-16 singles.

McClurg, who had earlier in the season lifted the Boat Club U-16 trophy, was the top seed for the event and admitted that he had an off day.

"I played as if I was half asleep – it was a very disappointing performance and I am gutted to have lost in the first round but good luck to Philip for the rest of the tournament," he said.

However McClurg had better luck in the U-18 category as he defeated Ballymena's Matthew Robinson 7-5, 6-4 to earn a semi-final date with second-ranked Warrenpoint player Ardghal MacMahon, who was a 6-3, 6-3 winner over Peter Corrie.

Top seed Matthew McClurg, Ben's older brother, and the current Boat Club U-18 champion, beat Ronan McKeever 6-0, 6-2 and will now face Benjamin Cree in the last four after he had a 6-1, 6-3 win over Jared Monaghan.

That keeps alive the prospect of a battle between the two brothers provided both win their semi-final encounters tomorrow while there is a good chance it will be a meeting of two sisters in the corresponding girls event.

Enniskillen player Sarah Cousins qualified for the main draw with a 7-6, 6-3 win over Megan Mulgrew and will now face top seed Annie McCullough in the U-18 girls semi-finals with Amy Rothwell to play Annie's twin sister Caitlin, who is ranked second, in the other last four tie.

Belfast Telegraph


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