Jordan and Jessica setting their sights on Belfast junior ITF glory
Jordan McKeown and Jessica Leeman will carry the best hopes of a third local success at next month's Belfast City Junior ITF tournament.
Belfast-based Romanian Karola Bejenaru set the ball rolling in the competition's debut in the province in 2013 and Peter Corrie was a winner at the south Belfast venue two years ago.
McKeown, a member of the AGP Academy, had the misfortune to be drawn against the top seed last year and made a second round exit but he believes he is in better shape 11 months on.
The 18-year-old Bangorian, who will progress to the seniors later in the season, is ranked number one in his age-group in Ireland and, later last year, was crowned Ulster senior Open champion for the first time after beating six-times winner Przemek Stec in the final.
"I've been working really hard on areas I needed to improve on like my serve which is now better and I am hitting the ball harder," he said. "I have worked hard on the physical side of things and I'm a lot stronger now and I have got a bit heavier in a good sense.
"I'm in it to win it and I think I can do really well but, as usual, it will be a case of taking it one match at a time and a lot will depend on the draw. It would be a really nice way to sign off my junior if I can manage to do what Peter did two years ago and win it."
Leeman, meanwhile, has recovered from a frustrating spell with injuries and is looking forward to mixing it with some of the best junior players in Europe at Windsor from June 23-29.
The Hawarden ace said: "I had a stomach muscle injury last summer and then, after playing a fair bit up until Christmas, I went over on my ankle and was out for about six weeks.
"But I've been back playing now for about a month-and-a-half and I'm fully fit, playing well and looking forward to the summer very much. I haven't played any tournaments in a while because of the injuries but I'll be playing in a couple of events before the ITF.
"I'd be happy if I could do as well as I did last year. I thought I did well to reach the quarter-finals and anything beyond that would be a bonus."
Tournament Director Simon McFarland said: "The event is being held a few weeks earlier this season to avoid a clash with a couple of professional tournaments in Dublin which kept the numbers down last year."
"However, there's been a huge level of interest so far and we have 118 players entered into the boys' event alone."