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Caleb Ralston's hard work starts to pay off

By Ali Gordon

Young tennis stars from across Northern Ireland flocked to Belfast Boat Club yesterday for the second day of the Clubworld Travel Ulster Junior Championship.

It was a double celebration for Ballymena's Matthew Robinson in both the under-16 and under-18 categories as he triumphed over Jacob Fleming and Tommie Andrews.

Convincingly beating Fleming (6-3 6-1) at under-16 level and Andrews (6-4 6-2) at under-18 level will undoubtedly raise Robinson's confidence ahead of tomorrow's draw.

Lurgan's Caleb Ralston also had an impressive day at the tournament, beating Niall Butler 6-1 6-3 in the under-16 category.

Ralston is looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead and is hoping that his extra training this summer will see him into the final later this week.

"I played very aggressively and played some good, controlled points. I was just trying to put lots of pressure on him and eventually he just cracked, so it worked," Ralston said.

"I won at CI and made it to the final at Ballycastle so I'm looking forward to the next match, I'm feeling pretty confident," Ralston said.

"I've done a lot of physical training lately so I don't get tired too easily and I've been doing a lot of hitting practice early in the mornings. It's been a busy summer," he added.

There were stand-out performances in the girls' matches from Hannah Cousins, who had a whopping 6-0 6-0 victory over Suzanne McKinstry at under-16 level, and under-18s Alexandra Adams and Katherine Hill, who defeated Saskia Craig and Victoria Hamilton (6-0 6-1) in the doubles.

In the younger age groups, under-14 Cian McDonnell enjoyed a comfortable win over Patrick Watson (6-0 6-1) before moving up to the under-16s to contest Jack Pedlow (6-2 6-4).

"I played very well today so I'm very confident looking ahead. I've been training lots recently with my coaches and also with my Mum and Dad," McDonnell said.

Results: U16 Sean Laird beat James Smith (6-2, 6-3), U16 Evan Whitty Fitzgerald beat Bernard McGettigan (6-1, 6-0), U21 Justin Gilmore beat Will Boyd (3-6, 6-3, 6-0), U21 Calum Hagan beat Stuart Armstrong (6-2, 6-1), U16 Arianna Kennedy beat Sue Smith (6-2, 6-2), U16 Emma Coalter beat Danielle Cameron (6-0, 6-0) and Leon Gibson beat Matthew Hamill (6-7, 6-2, 6-1).

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