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Leeman admits she beat nerves to earn a place in semi-finals

 

By John Flack

Top seed Jessica Leeman had several reasons to be cheerful last night after surviving a first-set scare to eventually ease into the semi-finals of the Racquet Lab Ulster Senior Open Championship at the Boat Club.

The Hawarden ace overcame fellow teen Ciara Hill 7-6 6-0 to book her place in the last-four against either Annie McCullough or Donna McSorley.

Earlier in the day, Leeman had defeated her 15-year-old opponent to help Strathearn lift the Ulster senior schoolgirls' title for the seventh year in a row with victory over Sullivan Upper in the final at Windsor.

And to put the icing on the cake, Jessica's younger brother Dylan progressed to the final round of men's singles' qualifying at the Ulster Open to make it a family double success.

Jessica (18) is in the unfamiliar position of being the title favourite at a senior tournament for the first time in her career, and she admitted that the pressure got to her in the opening set of her match with the CIYMS youngster.

She said: "I was a bit nervous at the start, but winning the tie-break 7-0 settled me down and I was able to open up."

Meanwhile, Ballynafeigh's Christine Duncan will have an early chance to avenge her defeat to Windsor player Caitlin McCullough in Saturday's Johnston Campbell North of Ireland Open final at Downshire.

The pair will meet again later in the week in the semi-finals of the Ulster Open after Duncan had few problems in scoring a 6-1 6-2 win over Boat Club teen Caoimhe McDonnell last night.

McCullough, the second seed, advanced to the semi-finals without hitting a ball when her scheduled opponent, Omagh's Michelle McWilliams, withdrew.

In men's qualifying, Dylan Leeman was involved in the closest match of the night as his tie with Daniel Cairo went to the wire. The 15-year-old was pushed all the way by the Ballynafeigh player before progressing on a 6-3 2-6 7-5 scoreline.

Leeman will now meet Downshire's Will Boyd, while there were also qualifying wins for Matthew Saunders and Ethan Hance last night.

Belfast Telegraph

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