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Ralston gutted by withdrawal, while Leeman also makes exit

 

By John Flack

Caleb Ralston made a painful exit from the Belfast City junior ITF tournament at Windsor yesterday when he was forced to retire from his quarter-final with a back injury.

The Lurgan teenager, who was seeded sixth, was trailing 7-5 3-2 to fourth-ranked Jamaican Luke Quaynor when he had to throw in the towel, despite receiving treatment on the court.

Jessica Leeman, the only other local survivor in the quarter-finals, suffered agony of a different kind when she bowed out in three sets to top-seeded American Taylor Cataldi in the girls' event.

The Hawarden player produced a magnificent display against the title favourite and had her chances to cause a major upset before going down 6-3 3-6 7-5.

After a somewhat shaky start and the loss of the first set, she responded superbly to square the match, helped by a barrage of powerful forehand shots.

The 18-year-old Ulster woman then battled back from 5-2 down in the final set to win three games in a row and had a break point for a 6-5 lead.

But the more experienced American saved it and went on to hold her serve and then won the next game to take the match.

However, Leeman - who won the Ulster Senior Open last weekend - can hold her head high and look forward to the next two such tournaments with renewed confidence.

In contrast, Ralston is a major doubt for the upcoming junior ITF events in Dublin after his unfortunate exit yesterday.

The 18-year-old said: "It was very frustrating, especially as it was a winnable match and I had a chance to take the first set when I had two break points.

"But even at that stage my back was giving me a bit of pain and it just got worse and worse.

"Getting physio only made it even sorer, so I simply had no option but to retire and now I will just have to wait and hope before the next ITF in Dublin.

"I have already been in contact with my coaches and physios in Bath, where I am now based, and I have been given some exercises to do to assist my rehab.

"However, it's not looking good as I have had two stress fractures in my back before and had to pull out of the Belfast ITF last year due to a similar injury."

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