Wednesday 17 January 2018

Racquets: Testing times for Barry ahead of Wimbledon tilt

Paddy Hickey

SAM BARRY has sat part of his Leaving Certificate in London in a bid to pass as many tests as possible at this year's Wimbledon Junior Open.

After completing the bulk of his exams in his native Limerick, Barry received special permission from the Department of Education to sit for two subjects on Monday and Tuesday at the Irish Embassy in London.

This enabled him to take part in this week's Grade One pre-Wimbledon tournament at Roehampton while at the same time completing the final segment of the Leaving Certificate a mere overhit forehand in distance from Hyde Park in the centre of the city.

"I wanted to get in some practice on grass before Wimbledon, and the Roehampton tournament was the ideal one in that regard," said Barry, who is competing in the All-England event for the second time, having lost to Britain's Ahmed El Menshawy in the opening round of qualifying last year.

Because of his world ranking of 84, Barry had to take part in qualifying of the Roehampton tournament and after scoring a 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 victory over Britain's Max England in the opening round, he exited to another British player, Richard Gardner, 6-7 (3/7) 4-6 in the second round.

"Obviously I would like to have gone further in the tournament, but it was still a bonus that I got in two matches on grass," he said. "And I suppose being involved in my Leaving Certificate at the same time wasn't the best preparation for the tournament."

Today, the Munster lad faces his first match in Wimbledon qualifying, and he will take heart from his performances in his previous two tournaments.

In last month's Grade One Belgian Junior International Championships, Barry reached the semi-finals, ousting Serbia's 14-ranked Damir Dzumhur and top British player Oliver Golding en route to the last-four stage.

And then in the first round of the French Junior Open three weeks ago, he turned in a creditable performance against 15-ranked Mitchell Frank, pushing his American opponent to three sets, 4-6 6-4 2-6.

Barry will be joined at Wimbledon by Dubliner John Morrissey, whose world ranking of 31 is high enough to secure a place in the main draw.

Meanwhile, the Irish Table Tennis Association hold their most prestigious event of the season, the Senior Schools' International, at the University of Limerick tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday.

Over 170 top players from Ireland, England, Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man, Scotland and Wales are set to take part in the event. Belfast's Paul McCreery, the current national adult No 1, will carry the main Irish hopes at U-18 level, having won the gold medal at U-16 in last year's corresponding event in Largs, Scotland.

McCreery and Dublin ALSAA's Sam Logue also look a strong partnership in the U-18 boys' doubles, while Dublin duo Shi Zhao Li (Club Donic) and Eastpoint's Ryan Farrell make up a formidable U-14 boys' pairing.

In addition, Dungannon's Ashley Givan and Ballincollig's (Cork) Edel O'Reilly will take some beating in the U-16 girls' doubles.

Irish Independent

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