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I'd love to come back, says Bothwell after first North of Ireland crown

 

On top: Men’s singles champion Peter Bothwell alongside Caitlin McCullough, who won the ladies’ event at Hillsborough
On top: Men’s singles champion Peter Bothwell alongside Caitlin McCullough, who won the ladies’ event at Hillsborough
Caitlin McCullough

By John Flack

Peter Bothwell has vowed to defend his Johnston Campbell North of Ireland Open title next year after lifting the trophy for the first time on his home courts in Hillsborough on Saturday.

The 23-year-old professional defeated Bangor teenager Jordan McKeown 6-2 6-1 in the men's singles final at a rain-drenched Downshire club to make it a triumphant debut in the tournament which is now in its third year.

Bothwell went on to lift the doubles trophy along with his younger brother Sam and picked up more than £1,000 for his efforts. He said: "It was a thoroughly enjoyable week and I achieved my target of not only winning the two trophies but getting in some valuable match practice.

"The conditions weren't great with constant rain during the final which isn't something I am used to but I was happy with the way I played.

"There were decent crowds throughout the week and, hopefully, they enjoyed the tennis that they saw.

"Provided my schedule on the tour permits, I would be delighted to come back again next year and do it all again."

Bothwell had little time to celebrate on Saturday night as he hopped on a 6am flight yesterday to head back to Spain where he has been based since turning pro as a teenager.

He is competing in a $25,000 ITF tournament this week which will be a big step up from the North of Ireland and a change of environment in more than one sense.

Bothwell added: "It will be around 30 degrees centigrade on the courts which are hard and not astroturf like most of the ones we have at home.

"The clay and hard surfaces are much slower and the rallies tend to be much longer than those that I had at Downshire where points were settled after maybe three or four shots.

"The heat also means you tend to take longer between serves and, aside from that, I will probably be up against players who will have a higher ranking if I can win a match or two.

"But I'm feeling good about my game and will be looking to continue my recent progress after reaching three quarter-finals and two semis in the last few weeks on the circuit.

Meanwhile, top seed Caitlin McCullough defeated Hawarden's Jessica Leeman 6-2 6-3 in the ladies' final to retain her title.

This week, the action switches to the Boat Club and the Ulster Senior Open in which Windsor ace McCullough will be out to avenge last year's defeat to Leeman in the decider.

McKeown, meanwhile, will be aiming for a third successive men's Ulster crown after Saturday's disappointment.

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