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McClurg brothers net tennis titles and beat rain

By John Flack

Matthew McClurg has revealed how he battled illness as well as the elements to lift the Under-18 Boys Singles title at the Clubworld Travel Ulster Junior Championship at a rain-sodden Boat Club on Saturday.

The Windsor teenager was unable to play or practice for several months at the turn of the year after being diagnosed as having glandular fever.

On Saturday he had to cope with adversity of a different kind as torrential downpours led to several stoppages as the players slid around in treacherous underfoot conditions.

Matthew lifted the Under-18 title with a hard-fought 6-0, 2-6, 6-3 win over Sligo player Noah Fleming.

"The conditions were awful, but I was just happy to get the win, especially after the glandular fever held me back from last November until March." he explained.

Matthew's younger brother, Ben, claimed the Under-16 trophy after a 6-1, 6-7, 6-3 victory over Matthew Robinson, whose superb run to the final which had included a victory over the top seed.

The decider was eventually completed after just under three hours, and four rain breaks, and the younger of the two brothers was delighted with his win, although he obviously did not particularly enjoy the dreadful conditions.

"It was terrible out there and it was difficult gripping the racquet, said Ben.

"The tennis balls were very heavy and I had to make four changes of clothing too, but it was the same for both of us I suppose.

"I am glad to have finally won a title at the Boat Club as I had been in several finals at under-12 and under-14 level in previous years and lost all of them.

"I'm glad Matthew won his final after mine, but I didn't see a single shot as he hates me watching him play."

Matthew Robinson, who was unseeded, was happy with his performance over the course of the tournament.

"It certainly wasn't a tennis match as we know it and it became a matter of who could poke the ball over the net better in the rain but I have had a good week so I am not complaining," said the Ballymena player.

Annie McCullough was unable to make it a double success for Windsor in the girls Under-18 final as she went down 6-2, 6-1 to top seeded Dundalk player Ruth Copas.

Clubworld Travel Ulster Junior Championship results: Boys finals: Under-12 Dylan Leeman bt Harry Ellesmere 6-2, 6-2; Under-14: Jordan McKeown bt Harry Ellesmere 6-2, 6-1; Under-16: Ben McClurg bt Matthew Robinson 6-1, 6-7, 6-3; Under-18 Matthew McClurg bt Noah Fleming 6-0, 2-6, 6-3.

Doubles: Under-14: Rory Cunningham & Caleb Ralston bt Jacob Fleming & Kyran Maguire 3-6, 7-5, (10-7); Under-18: Noah Fleming & Ryan West bt Benjamin Cree & Leon Gibson 6-3, 7-6.

Girls finals: Under-12 Rachel McCrum w/o Grace Smith scr.; Under-14: Jessica Leeman bt Mary Parkash 4-6, 6-1, 6-1; U-16: Rachel Collins bt Lydia Kelly 6-3, 6-2; Under-18: Ruth Copas bt Annie McCullough 6-2, 6-1.

Doubles: Under-14: Chrissie Bahrani & Parveen Hariri 7-6, 6-4; Under-18 Aoibhinn Kelly & Amy Rothwell bt Alexandra Adams & Katherine Hill 6-3, 7-5.

Mixed doubles: Under-18: Benjamin Cree & Aoibhinn Kelly bt Ben McClurg & Arianna Kennedy 7-6, 6-3.

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