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Cian makes sad exit at Windsor Junior ITF after battling display

 

By John Flack

Cian McDonnell made a quarter-final exit from the Belfast City Junior ITF tournament in agonising fashion yesterday when he lost in three sets to English visitor Harry Collins.

The 18-year-old had his chances to reach the last four, after taking the first set in commanding fashion, only to make a few unforced errors which ultimately proved to be his undoing as he went down 3-6 7-6 6-4 in a match lasting more than two hours.

McDonnell will now be looking to build on an impressive showing as he takes part in the third and final leg of the Irish world ranking series in Dublin in two weeks.

He looked to be more than capable of reaching the semi-finals for the first time in such an event as he confidently took the first set, seldom looking back after two breaks of serve saw him move into a 5-1 lead.

Collins broke back immediately and then held to claw back the deficit, but McDonnell served out to take the set.

However, he then lost his serve to trail 3-1 in the second, but broke back instantly, and games went with serve thereafter as a tie-break was needed to determine whether the match went into a third set.

Collins duly won it 7-4 and seized the early initiative in the decider, breaking the Ulster youngster in the first game.

McDonnell had break points of his own at 2-1 down but couldn't capitalise.

Games then went with serve, the local teen saving two match points when trailing 5-3 and one more in what proved to be the last game as Collins eventually prevailed to squeeze into the semis after an intriguing battle of wits.

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