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Tennis: Tennis gamblers in dead cert shock

Louk Sorensen did everything that could possibly be demanded of an underdog over the past week. The 25-year-old had already become the first Irishman since Matt Doyle in 1985 to qualify for a Grand Slam tennis tournament when he met Lu Yen-Hsun of Chinese Taipei in the first round in Melbourne.

In doing so, he also followed in the footsteps of his father Sean, who made Wimbledon in 1977.

Lu was ranked 183 places higher in the world than world number 284 Louk, but it was the Irishman who won in four sets. This made the German-born Corkman the first ever Irish player to win a round of a Grand Slam event.

And there was no disgrace attached to defeat by world number 28 John Isner of the US in the second round. Sorensen had his chances in the straight sets defeat against a player 11 and a half inches taller than him who went on to knock-out number 12 seed Gael Monfils of France in the third round.

This is one case in which quibbling about how Irish a player's parentage makes him is beyond mean spirited. Because anyone who can remember Sean Sorensen scrambling around the court and giving it everything in those glorious days when Ireland made the top flight of the Davis Cup in 1983 and gave the US, McEnroe and all, plenty of it in Dublin, couldn't think of his son being anything other than Irish.

It was a good week to praise Louk. But it was also a good week to remember Sean and the days when he and Doyle, an American declaring for Ireland, put tennis at the centre of the sports pages.

Neither Sorensen, however, is likely to ever equal the international splash made by another famous Cork tennis player. The 1879 Wimbledon singles runners-up, Thomas St Leger Goold, hit the headlines when, in August 1907, he and his wife were convicted of murdering one Emma Liven and leaving her dismembered body in a trunk in Marseilles.

Like many Cork people, the Goolds were keen gamblers and were trying to avoid paying back money to their unfortunate Danish victim after a stint in the casino at Monte Carlo. Thomas was sent to the Devils Island penal colony where he died two years later.

The real characters are gone out of sport these days.

Sunday Independent