Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Home Sport Tennis

Jordan and Jessica setting their sights on Belfast junior ITF glory


By John Flack

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."

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph