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Octave hoping to hit high note on injury return at Hillsborough

 

Pitch perfect: Lucy Octave
Pitch perfect: Lucy Octave

By John Flack

Lucy Octave is back playing tennis again after more than a year on the casualty list and is looking forward to facing an old adversary at the Johnston Campbell North of Ireland Open tournament in Hillsborough.

The 21-year-old will play Ulster senior interpro team-mate Annie McCullough in the quarter-finals tomorrow night after missing last season's tournament due to injury.

The Donaghadee ace was a double Ulster Open champion before heading to Utah State University where she has just completed her second year on a tennis scholarship.

However, her appearances in the USA were limited in the first semester as she recovered from double hip surgery, and she only made her return to the court in January.

As well as sitting out the North of Ireland, Octave was forced to miss Ulster's senior interpro bid last summer before she headed back to America.

Octave said: "It was very frustrating and painful at times but, fortunately, I am now back to full fitness and looking forward to pitting my wits against Annie at Hillsborough."

McCullough's twin sister Caitlin won the North of Ireland for the first time 12 months ago and could face her sibling in a semi-final family battle if she can overcome Octave tomorrow night.

First though, Caitlin must beat Caoimhe McDonnell, who defeated Isabella Connor 7-5 5-7 7-5 in the first round last night.

Ballymena woman Kerri Russell is also through to the last eight after beating Downshire teenager Amber Young 6-1 6-1.

Russell will now face last year's runner up Christine Duncan, who had an excellent win over then top seed Ruth Copas last year before going down to Caitlin in the final.

There was one men's singles first round match last night in which Ulster interpro ace Caleb Raston beat CI's David Taggart 6-2 6-2 to earn a meeting with either title holder Jordan Mckeown or Malahide's Dan O'Neill in the last eight.

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