McKeown is hoping to pass tough Slovakian test
Jordan McKeown and Jessica Leeman are each one win away from securing a world ranking point after coming through their first-round matches at the Malahide junior ITF tournament in Co Dublin yesterday.
McKeown, who was crowned Ulster senior champion last month when he defeated six-time winner Przemek Stec, who was forced to retire with an injury, had a 7-6 6-2 success over Great Britain's Arran Trainor.
It was another impressive display by the 17-year-old, who is a member of the Co Down-based AGP Tennis Academy.
Trainor, though, pushed McKeown all the way in the first set but the Ulsterman held his nerve in the tie-break which he comfortably won 7-2 before closing out the match with an imperious display in the second.
McKeown's coach Paul Watt said: "We were a little surprised that Jordan wasn't handed a wildcard entry into the main draw, considering he's ranked fourth in Ireland in his age group.
"But he came through qualifying in style, without dropping a set, and he's been making great progress already this season, culminating in his Ulster Championship success.
"Shortly after that, Jordan headed over to Majorca for some intensive training with a group of players from the Academy and that helped him focus his mind without any distractions.
"He will be taking part in the other two Irish ITF tournaments over the next fortnight and obviously he wants to get as many ranking points on the board as possible.
"He has been handed a tough draw in the second round at Malahide but it's all good experience for him and it will stand him in good stead before the next tournaments in Belfast and Dundalk."
McKeown will now meet the third seed, Slovakian teen David Cierny, who dismissed Hilden's Peter Corrie yesterday.
Corrie produced a gritty display but went down on a 6-4 6-4 scoreline after also making a first-round exit at a similar tournament in Edinburgh last week.
He said: "I had obviously hoped to do better in both tournaments as I wanted to be in a position to have a seeding going into the Belfast ITF, where I will be defending my title."
"However, that's not looking likely now and when you don't have a seeding, you just hope you'll get some luck in the draw which didn't happen at Malahide."
Windsor's Ben McClurg also missed out on a place in the second round after losing 6-3 6-4 to second-seeded Argentinian Falundo Tumoa.
Leeman, meanwhile, certainly wasn't blessed with the luck of the draw in the girls' event in Dublin after posting a good win in the first round yesterday.
The Hawarden teenager defeated Great Britain's Eloise Saraty 7-5 6-2 but she will now meet the top-seeded Irish Federation Cup player Anna Bowtell.
In the ITF Futures event, also being staged in Dublin, USA -based Matthew McClurg - older brother of Ben - lost out in first-round qualifying as he went down 6-3 6-2 to David Arsgasinski from Poland.
The Bothwell brothers Peter and Sam - the latter has a wildcard entry into the main draw - start their campaigns today.
Both have landed tough draws against seeded opponents, with Peter up against Birmingham man Lloyd Glasspool, ranked fifth, and Sam facing Scottish player Jonny O'Mara (eighth).