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Brazil star Emerson's girl sparkles


Special guest: Karolayne Alexandre Da Rosa from Brazil

Special guest: Karolayne Alexandre Da Rosa from Brazil

Special guest: Karolayne Alexandre Da Rosa from Brazil

Windsor tennis club welcomed aspiring young tennis players from across the globe yesterday including the daughter of Brazilian World Cup winner Emerson – Karolayne Alexandre Da Rosa.

Mum Sonia looked on as the 15-year-old battled it out with Belfast girl Laura Reid in pouring rain in their final set and while my Portuguese isn't the best it wasn't difficult to interpret the shrugs and eye rolling. Welcome to tennis in Belfast.

Having been to the ITF in Dublin last week, Belfast was the next stop before Karolayne and Sonia headed to Brazil to hook up once again with her famous dad, who played for the likes of Roma, Juventus and Real Madrid and triumphed in the 2002 World Cup in Japan/South Korea.

"I spend time in Italy, America and Brazil. I have my Italian coach Floriano Salvoni in Rome but I also train at the Bollettieri Academy as well," said Karolayne, who was needless to say not used to yesterday's playing conditions. "I'm not used to this rain, it doesn't rain that much in Italy!"

As for her dad – who also played in the 1998 World Cup finals in France – she explained that he remains heavily involved in football in his homeland.

"Now my dad is the president of a club in Brazil and he brings the good players from Brazil to Italy. He is very busy with the team in Pelotas which is southern Brazil.

"My dad encourages me and he always comes to my matches and when I go to play in Brazil next month he will be there."

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Karolayne did eventually lose to Reid but only after three sets.

"My dream is to be playing the Grand Slam events and to be in the world's top 10."

While the rain delay was an irritation, all players and coaches were in unison when it came to praising the organisation of the Windsor event – overseen by manager Wendy Phillips who was making sure that every aspect was running smoothly.

When the rain did subside, those gathered on the balcony were then treated to some of the best tennis seen in Belfast for years – the international flavour of the event in evidence with the variety of languages urging on their respective favourites.

The buzz surrounding this event, a refreshing change for local tennis, is such that it simply has to become an annual feature.

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