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Curran passes on expertise as Ulster set for inter-pro


By John Flack

Ulster have left no stone unturned in the build-up to the senior inter-provincial tournament which gets under way in Claremorris this evening. Former Irish Federation Cup player Claire Curran, who is now coaching on a freelance basis in England, has been passing on some tips to the squad, which includes three teenage debutants in Amy Rothwell, Jessica Leeman and Peter Corrie.

The Belfast woman is certainly well placed to pass on her expertise, having played on the Grand Slam circuit with appearances at Wimbledon and the US Open to boast of.

"With Claire leading the session alongside another former Fed Cup star, Lynsey McCullough, everyone was keen to impress and work hard," explained Ulster Tennis Academy chief Stuart McQuitty.

"Claire was able to help everyone take on a bolder approach to doubles, particularly with regards to their positioning at the net, and everyone really enjoyed the experience.

"We also brought in a performance psychologist, Sean Connolly, who has worked with international athletes and he spoke to the players about how to overcome their fears and replace them with positive beliefs that will improve their performance."

McQuitty is non-playing captain of the team as they attempt to lift the title for the first time in 34 years, although the odds are against them.

"This year, youth gets its chance for the senior team and these kids have no fear but we know it's going to be extremely difficult especially as we've had a few injury problems," he added.

"Jordan McKeown is unavailable and Jessica Leeman played only one match as a precaution at the Under-18 event earlier in the week as she's got a stomach muscle issue and we didn't want to risk her doing further damage.

"But with support from our female pro, Karola Bejenaru, I think we can do well."

Ulster team: Men: Johnny Abosi; Michael Blease; Peter Corrie; Aaron Stubbs; Alex Watt.

Women: Karola Bejenaru; Jessica Leeman; Lucy Octave; Amy Rothwell; Kerri Russell.

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