AFTER a two month end of season break Dundalk`s junior tennis players were back playing competitively in the recent Winter Leinster Matchplay and the David Lloyd Riverview U-18 open.
In the U-18 tournament Dundalk had a strong contingent in both events. In the girls U-18 Ruth Copas began her campaign with a tough match against third seed Aubree Ryan Flynn. Trailing a set and 5-2 Copas looked like she was heading home early, however, a stunning fightback from the Dundalk player resulted in a fantastic three-set victory.
Boosted by this memorable win Copas defeated Ciana Bowe in her quarter final match on a 6/3, 6/0 scoreline, but in her semi final match Copas could not keep her amazing run going as she lost to the second seed Julie Byrne.
Also in the girls U-18 event Aoife Tonna Barthet, who recently qualified for the upcoming Leinster Matchplays as one of the top 4 players, squared off against former national champion Sarah Curran. A disappointing defeat followed but wins over Jodie McWilliams and Aoife Leonard followed as she claimed the consolation.
In the boys U-18 event Joseph Mullen went into the event as the fourth seed, however, after an unconvincing win over Fionn Donnelly in the Winter Matchplay Mullen was coming into the event with a lot to prove.
He began his campaign with a solid 6/1, 6/2 win against Declan Gardiner, followed by a nervy 7/6, 6/4 win over Sam O`Kelly. In his semi final Mullen disappointly lost to first seed Coilin McNamara in straight sets.
Neil Jones went into the boys U-18 event brimming with confidence after qualifying for the Leinster Matchplays with wins over John Denvir and Luke Troy. However, in Riverview he suffered an unfortunate 6/2, 4/6, 10/7 defeat against Sam O`Kelly.
Dylan Kresa, another of Dundalk`s stars, began his boys U-18 campaign with a 7/6, 7/6 victory over Ciaran Maher, however, in the second round fifth seed Nikita Barisnikovs proved too hot to handle as Kresa bowed out of the tournament.
Also in the qualifying for the Winter Matchplays Daniel Mullen, Matthew Fee, Klara Hjalmers, Nina Hjalmers, Anna Mai Mullen, Jessica Quinn and Emma Mullen all played credibly, however, Anna Mai Mullen porduced that little bit extra as she qualified for the next phase with some excellent victories. The provincial Matchplays will take place in three weeks and many of Dundalk`s top players who have qualified will be there doing their club proud.