Major boost for Ulster's young guns at Windsor ITF showpiece
Ulster's top junior tennis players have been handed a major new incentive to excel at the seventh Belfast City ITF world ranking tournament which is being hosted at Windsor in June.
For the first time, there is to be an 'in kind' financial prize on offer, with €1,000 (£880) travel vouchers to be awarded to the leading Irish male and female over the course of what is now known as the Pinta ITF series.
The Dublin business development firm is backing the Windsor competition along with two other similar events to be staged on successive weeks in Cork and Dublin, after the south Belfast showpiece.
Under-18 world ranking points are up for grabs over the course of three events and, when these are totalled, the players with the two highest scores will receive the prizes.
Tennis Ireland chief executive Richard Fahey explained: "We are very grateful to Pinta for their support and they were keen to come up with some sort of package to back the series.
"To succeed at any level in tennis you need to travel and, with our location in the far corner of Europe, that can cost a lot of money.
"So the €1,000 travel vouchers will at least go some way towards easing the financial burden for the two young players who come out on top, and their parents.
"In order to be eligible for the prizes, all we ask is that players take part in at least two tournaments in the series."
Local teen Dylan Leeman is delighted at the new initiative, which will spur him on to do even better this year after being a first-round loser last time around, now that he has more experience under his belt.
The Hawarden ace commented: "I will be looking for my first ITF points in the tournament and the other two in the series and it's great to have the opportunity of doing that at home.
"The €1,000 would be a great help if I could win it, as it would allow me to enter a few more ITF tournaments across the water and further afield."
Among the other local players who will be taking part in the series will be debutant Rachel McCrum (David Lloyd), who represented Ireland at Under-14 level last year, Bangor's Harry Ellesmere, a former quarter-finalist at the Windsor tournament, and senior inter-pro player Cian McDonnell.