AFTER some encouraging performances from local junior tennis players in the recent qualifying event for the Leinster Matchplays and the U-18 Riverview Open, five of Dundak's best juniors took to the court for the Winter Leinster Matchplays.
Aoife Tonna Barthet went into her campaign as the No 4 seed in the girls U-16 event. Tonna Barthet began with a nail-biting three-set win over Deirbhile O`Keefe. A straight sets defeat to Niamh Nolan followed, however, after two excellent victories which included an extraordinary comeback against Seona O`Keefe, Tonna Barthet finished in sixth place overall which resulted in qualification for the National Matchplays.
Joseph Mullen began his boys U-18 campaign with a straightforward 6/2 6/2 win over Sean Quinlan. In his quarter-final Mullen came out on the wrong side of a close battle with Owen Kirk losing in two close sets. However, Mullen regained his composure to record straight set victories over the Castlkenock duo of Matthew Coffee and Nikita Barinsnikovs to set up a fifth place play-off against fourth seed Rory Curtis. Mullen lost a tight three-set encounter on this occasion but his sixth place finish ensured a place in the Nationals.
Ruth Copas began her girl U-18 campaign with a solid 6/1 6/3 victory over recent finalist of the Riverview U-18 Open Janeen Laabei. She followed up with an uncharacteristic performance against second seed Julie Byrne losing a rather one-sided affair. However her next match was one way traffic as Copas saw off Anna McWilliams in straight sets. After losing to Rachael Lawless Copas still had a chance of reaching the Nationals against Ciana Bowe. However, after a poor start Copas left it too late and had to settle for eighth place.
It was a similar story for Neil Jones in the boys U-16 event. Jones began with a creditable 6/3 6/2 loss to top seed Neil Chambers. However after a shock defeat against Robert Doyle, Jones`s aspirations of qualifying for the Nationals blew up in smoke. He recovered with wins over David Meenaghan and Ross Deegan to finish in ninth place overall.
In the girls U-12 event Anna Mai Mullen was given a tough assignment against second seed Julie Melnic and on this occasion Melnic ran out an easy winner. In her second match Mullen lost a closer battle against Ciara O`Toole.
Joseph Mullen and Aoife Tonna Barthet now go into the National Matchplay buoyed by their recent performances, but the Nationals will prove a stiffer test for these two outstanding junior players.