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McCullough and McKeown seeking Ulster glory


Title defence: young Jordan McKeown is in action today
Title defence: young Jordan McKeown is in action today

By John Flack

There will be a new name inscribed on the ladies' singles trophy after the Racquet Lab Ulster Senior Open final today at the Boat Club while defending champion Jordan McKeown will be determined to prevent a similar scenario occurring in the men's showpiece.

Top seeded Hawarden player Jessica Leeman faces second-ranked Caitlin McCullough in the ladies' match while McKeown will play first-time finalist Cian McDonnell in the men's decider.

To get to the final top seed McKeown, a winner at the North of Ireland Open last week, defeated Aaron Stubbs 6-1, 6-2, while Boat Club teenager McDonnell sprung a surprise by defeating second-ranked Harry Ellesmere 6-4. 7-6.

In last night's ladies' semi-finals, Leeman defeated Annie McCullough 7-5, 5-7, 6-0 after a marathon battle lasting almost three hours, while the latter's twin Caitlin beat Christine Duncan 7-6, 6-2.

Caitlin's win was a repeat of her North of Ireland Open final victory over the Ballynafeigh ace and, although seeded second, she will be confident of upsetting the odds as she is clearly a player in form.

McKeown will, however, start a warmer favourite to retain his men's title, having scored a hugely impressive semi-final win over Donaghadee player Stubbs.

McKeown was delighted with his performance and is eagerly anticipating the final hurdle of his title defence against McDonnell. The Bangor lad won't be underestimating his opponent, having lost to his Ulster junior interprovincial team-mate earlier this month.

The 18-year-old said: "Against Aaron, I had a game plan that worked perfectly for me. I dominated the match and it was ideal preparation for me to move through to the final."

"Being able to watch Cian and Harry's match will help as I can analyse it along with my coach to prepare for the final.

"Although I lost to him in a one-set tournament recently. I was off my game that day and I will be up for the challenge."

Meanwhile, McKeown and Leeman are the only two Ulster players to be handed an automatic entry into the last 32 of the Belfast City junior ITF tournament at Windsor and will start their campaigns on Monday.

The remainder of the local teenagers will have to take part in qualifying today and tomorrow at the south Belfast venue.

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