Sunday 19 November 2017

Tennis: King justifies move to full-time

Paddy Hickey

LAST weekend marked one of the most encouraging periods for Irish tennis for some time, with three players coming up trumps around the globe.

Pride of place arguably goes to Limerick's Sam Barry, who captured his second successive ITF U-18 singles title in as many weeks in Indonesia.

Thirteen-year-old Sinead Lohan also flew the flag proudly for Munster, the Tramore player netting singles honours in the Tennis Europe U-14 event in Stavanger, Norway.

And to complete the picture, Dubliner Barry King collected his first ATP singles world ranking point in an ITF Futures tournament in Gabon, West Africa.

Following his Indonesian successes, Barry will improve in the ITF U-18 world rankings from 280 to approximately 180 next week, while Lohan, who is re-eligible for the U-14 grade next year, will improve from her current mark of 92 to approximately 40 in the Tennis Europe rankings.

After shocking Conor Niland in the semi-finals of the Irish Close Championships last July, King decided to try out his luck on the full-time circuit for a minimum of 12 months.

And the former Notre Dame University tennis scholarship student must be delighted with his move, as he had to wait only five tournaments before picking up his first world ranking point.

The 23-year-old right-hander had previously played in the ITF Futures and ATP Irish Open Challenger in Dublin, and two Futures events in Britain, prior to making the breakthrough in Gabon. Following a bye in the first round of the qualifying series, King dumped out Austria's 1,468-ranked Pascal Brunner 6-2 7-6 (7/2).

And the Rathfarnham lad followed up with two victories over significantly higher-ranked opponents than Brunner to clinch a quarter-final place.

As a result, he netted three world ranking points, and that should see him slot in around the 1,330 mark, with the lowest-ranked player being at 1,936.

In the first round of the main draw, King thrashed Togo's 721-ranked Komlavi Loglo 6-2 6-2, before edging Russia's world number 502 Mikhail Vasiliev 7-6 (7/5) 7-5.

In the quarter-final, the Irish player pushed Netherlands' 915-ranked Peter Lucassen, who had put out Slovakia's 304-ranked Kamil Capkovic, to a 7-6 (7/5) 4-6 6-7 (2/7) scoreline.

l As part of Tennis Ireland's process to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding, the national governing body has produced a book of essays written by a number of people renowned for their involvement in the sport, and others more associated with other areas.

Amongst the contributors are Owen Casey, Sean Sorensen, Yvonne Doyle, former Davis Cup ace Joe Hackett, rising young stars Sam Barry and Amy Bowtell, Olympic gold medalist Ronnie Delany, John O'Shea of GOAL, Sir Anthony O'Reilly and comedian Gary Cooke.

The hardback publication is entitled 'Tennis Lives -- A journey through the heart of Irish tennis' and would make an ideal Christmas gift. It is available from Tennis Ireland (01-8844010) at a special price of €25.00 up to December 7, and at €30.00 thereafter.

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