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Tennis star Karola Bejenaru is on the mark at world level after Bucharest win

By John Flack

Karola Bejenaru scored a landmark victory yesterday at a $10,000 tournament in Bucharest where her first round success saw her secure a professional world ranking for the first time.

The 18-year-old Windsor player defeated her fellow Romanian Evelyne Tiron 6-2, 6-0 and her third main draw win inside 12 months was enough to clinch a place on the world ladder.

Karola has now set her sights on bigger and better things after only recently finishing her junior career with a trip to Wimbledon where she played in the Under 18 doubles at SW19.

Understandably, it was the experience of a lifetime after she had missed out on a place in the main draw in the singles at Junior Wimbledon for the second year in a row shortly after she failed to make it past qualifying at Roland Garros.

But she'd like to make a return visit to both those iconic venues in the years to come and compete in the most famous tournaments in the world after finally taking her first significant step towards fulfilling her dream with yesterday's victory.

Karola will now meet third seed Christine Ene, a 19-year old compatriot who is ranked 424 in the world and is defending the title she won last year in the Romanian capital.

But with her short-term ambition achieved, the Belfast-based teen is looking forward to the challenge.

"I was overwhelmed, to be honest, and all the hard work has now paid off after waiting quite a while to get my third win on the professional tour which is what you need to get a ranking," she enthused.

"I had been playing really well in this tournament and the first round win was probably my best performance to date.

"I have been working very hard on the mental side of my game, taking one point at a time, and not getting too up or down whether I lose or win games," Karola said.

"I am not sure how far I will get in this tournament because I have a really tough draw but the important thing is that I have now got a ranking and I will find out what it is next week.

"Having said that, there will be no pressure on me when I play Christine and I took a player with a similar ranking to three sets a couple of weeks ago so I am looking forward to the match."

Karola will waste no time in setting the bar higher as she will be competing in a $25,000 tournament in her home country next week.

"Obviously that's going to be a step up but I have to push myself if I am to achieve my ambition which is to play in the Grand Slams in the years to come," she added.

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