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Stubbs signs off junior career in style

By David Kelly

Aaron Stubbs was hailed by Ulster Branch president Rosamund Thompson as "a credit to the sport" as his junior days came to an end with a typically cool and classy performance in the under-18 final at the Ulster hardcourt championships.

The 17-year-old Donaghadee lad, who last month won the Ulster junior open under-18 title, won his fourth successive under-18 title at the Windsor club event yesterday with a 7-5 6-0 victory over Comber's Matthew McClurg.

Stubbs, who landed the Irish junior under-16 title in 2010, will now hope to stay as busy as he can and try to gain himself a scholarship at an American university.

Stubbs admitted that he found himself under pressure from under-16 winner McClurg in the early stages, going 3-0 down but he remained calm and gradually took a stranglehold on the match.

While McClurg continued to send down some rasping forehands, Stubbs found his rhythm and used the angles to great effect.

Stubbs said: "It's a nice way to sign off, I'm going to miss the junior scene a lot.

"Matthew was playing out of his skin, he was hitting some very big balls and it wasn't that I was playing badly, he just too good at the point but then I managed to start turning it around.

"It's my fourth under-18 title here in a row which is nice and I think I have four Ballycastle titles as well. I have a couple of under-18 titles from the Ulster junior open as well – even though I missed a couple due to playing in ITFs.

"I've just started Upper Sixth at Bangor Grammar so I'm going to start looking seriously at trying to get a scholarship at an American university. It's a route that is now being talked about a lot for the juniors here and I think that's a great opportunity for us all."

Ulster president Thompson was quick to pay tribute to Stubbs, who regularly represented the province in the inter-provincials.

Thompson said: "Aaron is such a great kid, he's an example to all the others in terms of dedication, determination and how he behaves himself on the court."

Having bagged the singles title, Stubbs then rounded off his day with victory in the under-18 doubles with Josh Chambers.

Stubbs and Chambers were just too hot for Windsor pair Jakob Robb and Leon Gibson, 6-3 6-3.

Having taken three titles at the Ulster junior open last month, the McCullough twins Annie and Caitlin took another three home yesterday.

Facing each other in the under-16 final, Caitlin had the edge 6-1 5-7 6-4 in a match lasting almost two and a half hours. A few hours later and they were back on court in the under-18 final and once again the Windsor girls produced another rollercoaster battle.

As the match went down to the wire, Annie found some flashing forehands and backhands to swing the title her way, winning 6-2 4-6 7-5 after another two and a half hours. Then in the under-18 doubles, the McCulloughs defeated Amy Rothwell and Rachel Collins 6-3 6-4.

Peter Corrie went down 7-5 6-4 to Matthew McClurg in the under-16 final but then returned to take the under-14 title, defeating Ross McMaster 6-3 6-1.

Meanwhile, as Stubbs walked off court victorious, two nine-year-old lads Johnny McCracken – who edged a three-setter – and Ethan Hance, were battling it out in the under-12 novice final and showing why they are the future.

Belfast Telegraph


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