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Corrie looks to make a big statement after nearly quitting game


By John Flack

Peter Corrie has revealed that he was on the point of bringing his tennis career to a premature halt only a matter of weeks after winning the ITF junior world-ranking tournament at Windsor last year.

However, the talented teenager had a change of heart after taking a two-month break from the sport, and now the 17-year old Hilden player is looking forward to defending his title at this year's event, which is scheduled for the south Belfast venue from July 22-28.

Taller and wiser, 11 months after becoming the first local male to win the prestigious trophy amidst competition from all over Ireland and Europe, Corrie has had a new lease of life and he has discovered a couple of important role models in the shape of brothers Peter and Sam Bothwell.

The Ulster trio compete for Leinster league side Malahide at weekends, although the Bothwell brothers' appearances are limited because of their commitments on the professional tour - where Corrie ultimately sees his future if all goes to plan. However it could all have been so different had he not reneged on his decision to put his tennis career on hold, or even call time on it completely.

Speaking at the launch of this year's Belfast City Council-backed ITF tournament yesterday at Windsor, Corrie explained: "After winning last season's tournament I lost in the first round of a similar event the following week and things went downhill as far as my tennis was concerned afterwards.

"My form deserted me and I actually decided to give tennis a miss for around two months at the tail-end of last year, and I was seriously contemplating giving the sport up altogether.

"I was playing a lot of hockey both at Campbell College and for Annadale and I suppose that plugged the gap as far as taking part in sport was concerned, and as it's a team game in which you win together and lose together so it's not as mentally demanding.

"However, after some soul-searching I decided that I'd gone so far in tennis that it would be a waste giving it all up, so after taking those two months off I began playing again after Christmas and I am enjoying it again.

"Watching and chatting to the Bothwells has been a great help as well and I've learned a lot from them about both the physical and mental approach to tennis.

"I've gradually got my form back after being rubbish in the initial stages of my comeback and I'm playing well, serving better, helped by the fact I've grown to 6ft 4ins and my temperament on court has improved as well.

"So I'm now really looking forward to defending my ITF title next month.

"I am also planning to take part in another ITF event the week beforehand so, if I do well in that, I may be seeded for the Belfast tournament and, if that's the case, my task would be less difficult."

The talented teenager made another impressive statement of intent last night as he reached the main draw at the Johnston Campbell North Of Ireland Open with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Michael Blease.

Corrie's coach Alex Watt also progressed, defeating Aaron Stubbs 6-2, 6-1 to set up a meeting with top seed David O'Hare in the quarter-finals. Jordan McKeown will play second seeded Dubliner Osgar O'Hoisin in the last eight following an impressive 6-1, 6-2 victory over Stephen McCausland.

In the ladies singles Ulster champion Lucy Octave had to survive two match-points against Jessica Leeman in a second set tie-break before eventually beating the Hawarden teen 2-6, 7-6, 6-1.

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