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Classy Caleb Ralston left to fly the flag for Ulster

By John Flack

Caleb Ralston is the last Ulster boy standing after the final round of qualifying in the ITF junior world ranking tournament at Windsor yesterday afternoon.

The 16-year-old from Lurgan followed up his first and second-round wins with another straight sets victory after the rest of the local contingent failed to progress.

Ralston, who had opened his campaign by beating the third seed in the qualifying event, wasted little time in disposing of British player Sebastian Harris on a 6-2 6-2 scoreline.

Jordan McKeown also made it into the final round of qualifying but unfortunately crashed out when he lost 6-3 6-4 to Spanish visitor Jorge Garcia, whose sheer power and big serve ultimately proved too hot to handle for the Bangor lad.

However, tired limbs were also a factor as McKeown had only an hour to recover after earlier beating the top seed in the qualifying event with a tremendous performance.

The match had been delicately poised overnight when McKeown trailed 4-5 in the second set after taking the first against Tom Thellwell-Jones.

The English visitor squared the match but McKeown rallied superbly to record a memorable 6-4 5-7 7-5 win after breaking his opponent's serve in the 12th game to avoid a final set tie-break.

However, despite his subsequent defeat, McKeown could still qualify for the first round proper as a 'lucky loser' after a player pulled out of the main draw and the four defeated final round qualifying competitors go into the hat today.

The County Down teenager will be hoping to join Matthew O'Boyle, Peter Corrie and Jakob Robb, all of whom received a direct entry into the last 32.

Meanwhile, Laura Reid, Jessica Leeman, Sarah Cousins and Mary Parkash will carry local hopes in the girl's event.

Selected results:

Boys qualifying: first round: (Ulster players have been named first): Dylan Robinson lost to Carlos Vazquez (Spain) 6-1 6-4; Caleb Ralston beat Callum Finlay (GBR) 7-6 6-3; Jared Monaghan lost to Sebastian Harris (GBR) 6-1 6-1; Jordan McKeown bt Rudy Biolay (France) 6-0 6-2; Will Millar lost to Zizheng Jin (GBR) 6-3, 7-6.

Second round: McKeown beat Tom Thellwell-Jones 6-4 5-7 7-5: Ralston beat Pietro Pirlot (Italy) 6-1 6-2.

Third round: McKeown lost to Jorge Garcia (Spain) 6-3 6-4; Ralston beat Sebastian Harris (GBR) 6-2 6-2.

Girls qualifying: first round: Ariana Kennedy lost to Eloise Saraty (GBR) 6-4 6-4; Eimear Smyth lost to Yemesi Ifederu (GBR) 6-1 6-0.

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