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Sports : Tennis Last Updated: 2, Apr 2018 - 10:02

Castlebar Tennis Club - Junior Open Fitzwilliam Aug 2002
By Garrett Barry
6, Sep 2002 - 13:40

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Junior Irish Open Tennis Championships, Fitzwilliam LTC, 18th - 25th August 2002

This year Castlebar Tennis club could boast no fewer than 20 participants in the Irish Open at Fitzwilliam LTC. This is by far the highest number of participants from any club in Connacht and relative to the size of our club, more than any other club in Ireland.

Justin Glancy started the U12 boy's event as the number 3 seed. Due to an unfortunate hairline fracture on his wrist earlier in the year, Justin had been fighting all summer to regain the form he showed at the beginning of this year. He had a lot to prove in Fitzwilliam and this he duly did. In a potentially tough first round Justin played N. Wright from Ulster. Justin showed good form in this match winning comfortably 6/2 6/1. His second round was against A. O' Mahony from Monkstown in Dublin. Justin found O' Mahony a very tricky opponent but fought his way to a 6/2 6/4 victory. In his quarter final Justin met Luke Hennessy. Hennessy had beaten Justin the last time they had met and was the form player, reaching a recent final in Castleknock. In a tense 3 setter Justin was the better player and came through the match 6/3 4/6 6/3. Justin went on to meet Mark Bowtell in the semi-final. Bowtell was the number 2 seed in the tournament and has been playing great tennis all summer. Justin played a great match but succumbed to Bowtell's superior strength by a score of 6/2 6/2. Justin can be very proud of his Fitzwilliam performances, showing great focus and determination in all of his matches. He underlined his position as the number 3 under 12 tennis player in Ireland.

Justin also reached the final of the U12 boy's doubles partnering Tommy Murphy from Carlow. They lost in 2 tight sets to M. Bowtell and N. Fitzgearld, 6/4 6/4.

We had 3 other players in the various U12 events. Andrew Butler lost in a very close first round to P. Robinson from Ulster by 6/2 6/7 5/7. Mark Towey, due to being multi-talented, had to pull out of the singles (He was busy winning gold in Mosney for soccer!!). He did play in the doubles with Andrew Butler and lost in tight first round. Dara Cuddy played boys doubles with Liam Martin where they lost first round. He also played mixed doubles, again losing first round, but showing great potential for his first time at the Irish Open.

The U14 Boys singles event has been the best event for Castlebar the past 2 years. This was the event that Warren Atkins won last year. With the shock second round exit of the Number 1 seed, Paul Foley, the tournament was left wide open. This gave any one of our 4 charges a great chance to reach the final or even win the tournament.

Daniel Glancy had the trickiest first round match playing C. McLoughlin from Dublin. Daniel played some very gutsy tennis to eventually win 7/6 in the final set. His second round was against Rob Mawe, another very tough opponent from Cork. Daniel played excellent tennis to win his match 6/3 6/4. This set up a ¼ Final meeting with the No. 4 seed G. King from Dublin. Daniel and G. King had some great battles in the various tournaments all year, this one promised to be no different. Neither of the boys disappointed; this was the best standard of hard-hitting accuracy shown in any match in the U14 event. King eventually won 6/4 in the third set. Daniel showed the huge progress he has made this year both technically and mentally. The exciting thing is, the best has yet to come from Daniel.

Damien Conway performed very well in his first round. Brian Murphy from Carlow showed greater experience to win 6/4 6/1. This was Damien's first experience of Fitzwilliam, but won't be his last

Conor McHale breezed through his first 2 rounds and found himself in the quarterfinal. In his ¼ final Conor played the number 8 seed S. Wrafter. Conor blew his opponent off the court playing his best tennis of the summer to win 6/0 6/1. Conor met G. King, the conqueror of Daniel Glancy in the semi-final. Unfortunately for Conor, King was in unstoppable form, serving big and overpowering him with some outstanding winners. Conor never got time to settle and lost 6/3 6/1. If it could be any consolation for both Daniel and Conor, King went on to win the tournament.

Damien Conway and Conor McHale also played in the boy's U14 doubles. They lost in the first round to S. Wrafter and D. Doyle 3/6 6/3 3/6.

Michael Cuddy was unseeded in the tournament, perhaps unfairly so, but he was determined to prove the tournament committee wrong by the end of the week. Michael played B. Flynn from Munster in his first round match and won 6/3 6/2. His second round was against the number 3 seed in the tournament R. Stone from Greystones. Stone won a very closely fought first set by 7/6 and this looked ominous for Michael. Michael got stuck in and ground out the second set by 6/4, playing some of his characteristic angles and textbook topspin lobs. This set up what was to be an epic third set. On what was one of the hottest days of the week, the set went all the way to the deciding tiebreak. Michael got the better start in the tiebreak taking a 4-2 lead at the change of ends. When he took the next point, there looked to be no way back for Stone. In the very next point, Stone hit a drop shot that was just out of Michael's reach. As he had done all through the match, Michael hustled to get to the ball and on his way he slipped. He grazed his hand and arm pretty badly but there was no way he was stopping, played on in obvious pain. Stone duly got back into the tiebreak and brought it to six points each. Michael showed immense fight and heart to eventually win the tiebreak 9-7. This was drama worthy of a final, and one of the performances of the week. Michael met the Number 6 seed, Conor O' Kane in the quarterfinal. O' Kane would have been fancied to make the semi-final but Michael had other ideas. In a very one-sided match, Michael won 6/4 6/4. This set up a semi-final against Alex Hamilton from Dublin. In Hamilton, Michael finally met his match. Hamilton gave Michael no chance to play his usual counter attacking game and won the match 6/4 6/3.

At the beginning of the week, this reporter would have been happy to see any one player to get to a semi-final. The only event that I was confident of a semi-final was the U14 boy's doubles with Daniel Glancy and Michael Cuddy. There form had been brilliant all summer, winning the senior August Weekend Tournament in Castlebar. Their singles performances nearly took their toll as they had a minor hiccup in the ¼ final where they had to go to 7/5 in the third set to win. This was through physical tiredness rather than the skill of their opponents. They won their semi-final 6/2 6/4 in relatively comfortable fashion. This made for an exciting final with the Number 1 seeds, Paul Foley and Robert Stone. In a closely fought match, Michael and Daniel battled hard but just came up short 4/6 6/3 2/6. Exceptional performances once again from the two Castlebar players.

There were some great performances from all of the Castlebar players but Michael Cuddy's deserves the tag of overall 'Player of the Week'.

There were only 2 female participants from Castlebar in Fitzwilliam, namely Aisling Sage in the U18 Girls and Laura Cuddy in the U14 Girls. Aisling put in one of her usual gritty performances in her first round winning in convincing style. Her second round was a repeat of her second round last year where she met Rachel Halligan of Dublin. Halligan won the match 6/2 6/4 but not without tough resistance from Aisling.

Laura Cuddy, playing in the U14 event won her first round against C. Falsley of Kells. Her second round was a much tougher affair against S. Crowley, the Number 6 seed, now living in the USA. Crowley was that bit steadier on the day and came through by the score of 6/2 6/3. Laura showed once again that she would be a major force in the U14 girl's event next year.

The U16 boy's event had no fewer than 5 players from Castlebar. 4 of the five lads lost in their first rounds. Kevin McNamara lost to M. Dunne 6/1 6/1, Paul Moran lost to D. Rowan 6/1 6/0, Niall McHale had to withdraw due to illness and Richard Martin lost to G. Kane 6/2 6/2. Just reaching the Irish Open is a massive achievement for all of these players and they deserve great credit. Pearse Healy also qualified to play in the U16 boy's doubles. He and Kevin McNamara were beaten in the first round 6/3 6/3.

What can we say about Warren Atkins that has not already been said? He came into Fitzwilliam playing very average by his own high standards. His first round was against a very awkward opponent in C. Cargo from Ulster. Warren's record against Cargo was not great, even though Cargo had not been playing much all summer. They say that the sign of a great player is that they can win even when playing poorly. This was so in Warren's first round. After losing a tight first set, Warren pulled himself together and won the match 6/2 in the third set. His second round was again by his standards a poor performance against M. Martin from Munster. Warren won 6/2 7/5, coming from a 5/2 deficit in the second set.

Looking at the draw at the start of the tournament, many people would have picked out Warren's quarterfinal match as a potential cracker. His opponent was the Number 1 seed Tristan Farren-Mahon. Farren-Mahon is the same age as Warren at 15; there was no height advantage, no strength advantage. The only slight advantage for Farren-Mahon was that he plays full time tennis in France, he has a full tennis scholarship and had a U14 European ranking last year in the top 40 (Warrens was 300 approx.)! Pretty impressive! Most would say daunting. Did this faze Warren? Not a chance.

Warren hit a purple patch at the start of the match racing to a 4/0 lead. Unfortunately Farren-Mahon clawed his way back and actually took the set 7/5. Warren took this set back in his stride and raced through the second set winning it 6/2. The third set was a thriller in which each player at different stages looked to have the edge. Warren, showing ice cool nerve took a 6/5 lead in the final set with a solid forehand volley. At 30-15 down in the next service game, Warren played 3 amazing points, where he beat his opponent to a pulp with devastating ground strokes to finally take the set and the match 5/7 6/2 7/5. I am quite sure that there was no other player in the draw that would have had the grit and determination to beat Farren-Mahon.

Visibly tired from his titanic battle with Farren-Mahon, Warren could not reproduce the heroics of the previous day. Warren lost his semi-final to number 3 seed M. Lynch 6/4 7/6. Will Warren be a contender for the U16 title next year? I have no doubt.

Castlebar had 3 competitors in the U10 boy's event. These were Liam Martin, Rossa Glancy and Rory Walsh. For all 3 boys it was their first appearance in Fitzwilliam. Rory Walsh lost in the first round to E. Melia 6/1 6/0. Rossa Glancy lost in the Last 16 to the eventual winner J. Morrissy 6/0 6/0. Liam Martin also lost in the Last 16 to C. Fitzgerald 6/2 6/2. All 3 boys gave great performances and enjoyed the experience.

As coach to most of the players mentioned above, I would like to congratulate each player on their own personal achievement. Whether it was getting into the tournament, or reaching the latter rounds, they can be very proud. I would also like to thank their parents for their continued support and dedication.

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