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Bothwell is sad to see big title rival Barry forced out

 

'Bothwell is currently ranked 621st on the global list, just 16 places below his career best, and he's hoping to rise further up the ladder in the weeks to come after he returns to the circuit' (stock photo)
'Bothwell is currently ranked 621st on the global list, just 16 places below his career best, and he's hoping to rise further up the ladder in the weeks to come after he returns to the circuit' (stock photo)

By John Flack

Sam Barry has been forced to withdraw from the Johnston Campbell North of Ireland Open tournament which is taking place at Hillsborough this week.

The former Irish Davis Cup player has had to pull out due to injury, but there is no stopping Peter Bothwell, who is now an even hotter favourite to lift the top prize of £1,000 which is awarded to the men's singles winner.

Last night the 23-year-old professional defeated Hilden's Alex Watt 6-1 6-2 to book his place in tonight's semi-finals, in which he will face Dublin teenager Ammar Elamin, who beat Cian McDonnell 6-2 6-2.

However, while he looks set to take the title, Bothwell says he would much preferred to have had the opportunity to face Barry in the final, assuming he passes tonight's test.

Limerick man Barry was once ranked 255th in the world, although he no longer competes on the pro tour having had to tone down his playing commitments due to a succession of injuries.

Bothwell is currently ranked 621st on the global list, just 16 places below his career best, and he's hoping to rise further up the ladder in the weeks to come after he returns to the circuit.

"It's a pity Sam had to pull out but I had heard he had been having a few niggles in recent weeks so I suppose it's no real surprise," said Bothwell.

"You want to pit yourself against the best opposition possible and I would have loved to have played him in the final for more than one reason.

"It would have given me a really stiff test before I go back on the circuit and, secondly, it would have given me an opportunity to avenge my defeat to him in the Irish Open a few years ago."

Bothwell won the Irish Open for the first time last August in Dublin and that remains his sole singles success on the Futures tour, so he will be anxious to hold onto his title later in the summer.

After finishing his campaign on his home courts, Bothwell is planning to take in at least two Challenger events in Spain, the first of which starts next week.

He is in a rich vein of form at the moment having reached three quarter-finals and two semis on the Futures tour, in which there is a total prize fund of £15,000 per tournament.

However, the next step up to the £25,000 bracket will be a sterner test but one that he is looking forward to, having recovered from an injury which ruled him out for two months at the tail end of last year.

Bothwell added: "It took me a while to get back my form after the injury but I have been happy with the way I have been playing in recent weeks.

"Yes, the Challengers is going to be a step up and there are players taking part who are around 250 places higher than me on the ladder, but I am really looking forward to the tournaments.

"At the moment, I will have to qualify rather than have a direct entry into the first round of next week's event in southern Spain, but hopefully there will be a few withdrawals and I will get in.

"My dad is coming over with me to coach me so that should be fun."

Elsewhere last night, title holder Jordan McKeown defeated Lurgan's Caleb Ralston 6-3 6-3 to set up a semi-final date with Dubliner Thomas Brennan, who overcame local teen Freddy Murray 6-3 6-3 after earlier beating Karl Donaldson in a delayed first round tie.

In the ladies' singles there were wins for Annie McCullough, who is likely to face her twin and title holder Caitlin tonight, along with Christine Duncan and Jessica Leeman.

Annie beat Lucy Octave 6-3 6-4, Duncan had a 6-2 6-3 win over Kerri Russell and second seed Leeman defeated Rachel McCrum 7-6 5-7 6-0.

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