Racquets: Barry won't let Leaving Cert hamper bid for top-20 ranking
TEENAGE ace Sam Barry will press on with his dream of surging up the ITF U-18 world rankings, despite having to sit his Leaving Certificate this year.
Barry will be placing a major emphasis on his studies over the next four months, but the 17-year-old from Limerick still plans to take part in a number of ITF tournaments before his exams in June.
Between academic work and tennis practice and tournaments, Barry, who reached the second round of last month's Australian Junior Open, is set to find himself under a considerable amount of pressure until late June.
However, a major plus in this regard for 81-ranked Barry, who trains full-time at the National Tennis Centre in DCU, is that he does not attend a school. Instead, he receives tuition in his spare time at the weekends, back in Limerick.
"Having to sit the Leaving Certificate this year complicates things for me," explained Barry, who spent two years at a tennis academy in Paris from 2006-08.
"But after giving the matter some thought, I've decided that I won't take a break from competing on the ITF circuit. It's my last year at U-18 level, and I want to get to my best possible ranking before December.
"If I took a few months off, I would miss the chance of winning a lot of ranking points, and it would take me a bit of a time to get back my fitness and sharpness.
"My goal for some time has been to make the world top 20 by this summer, and if I achieve that, it would be the ideal springboard for the rest of the year."
It's a telling indication of Barry's commitment to his tennis career that 36 hours after he returned home from Australia, he was on his way to Tunisia for two tournaments, reaching the quarter-finals in each.
Barry is planning to play on the ITF adult schedule next year and wants to play some senior tournaments this year.
"It would be very good preparation for next year to have a number of adult tournaments under my belt," he said. "So, for the rest of the year, I plan to play in a mixture of junior and adult tournaments."
Meanwhile, Conor Niland has improved 31 places in the ATP singles world rankings to No 246 after reaching the semi-finals of last week's ATP Challenger Tour event in Kazan, Russia.
Last weekend, the Limerick man reached the second round of qualifying for the Marseille Open -- his second top-tier ATP World Tour event this year.
On the local scene, the AGM of the Leinster Boys' Schools Tennis Union takes place in St Conleth's College, Clyde Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 on Tuesday at 7.30.
- The Irish Racquetball Association will host the World Senior Championships in Kingscourt from June 9-12, with 150 players from 12 countries expected to participate.
- In table tennis, the Ireland junior boys' team of Paul McCreery, Sam Hanley, Ashley Robinson, Sam Logue and Paul McCreery struck a blow for the sport here by winning the British Junior League title for the first time.
The Irish team won eight, drew one and lost only one of their 10 ties.