Laura Griffin tasted double success at last week’s Blake’s of the Hollow West Ulster Tennis Open with the Enniskillen player claiming the Ladies A singles title before pairing up with Matthew McGann to lift the Mixed A Doubles title.
The tournament proved a massive success for the organisers with an entry of 113 players from 11 different clubs ranging from Belfast to Longford. Played in glorious weather through the week, the onset of a small number of heavy showers on Friday and Saturday did not dampen the spirits with the newly refurbished courts proving a great success in quickly draining away surface water.
There were 15 championship titles up for grabs across A B and C graded events and despite increased numbers in the A events, there was still plenty to cheer for the local crowd.
Laura Griffin beat training partner Katie McManus to take the A Ladies singles title. With both players hitting at full pace there were plenty of winners for the large gallery to enjoy but it was Laura’s powerful serving that ultimately made the difference helping her to a convincing 6-2, 6-4 victory. Laura’s day was then complete as she and Matthew McGann combined to win the A Mixed, beating the number two seeds, Mark Smyth and Donna McSorley, in the final. Their path to the mixed championship included a match of the week performance in the semis when they beat hot favourites and number one seeds, Francis Venzon and Elaine Chambers, in a three set thriller.
Earlier in the day, Mark Smyth pulled out an amazing performance to beat Francis Venzon in the A Men’s singles final. With the match going on serve throughout the first set Mark suddenly found himself in trouble 4-5 down and 0-40 down facing three crucial set points. However, Mark choose this moment to produce his best tennis serving three unreturnable serves to get back to deuce and ultimately hold his serve. This was clearly the turning point in the match as Mark broke Francis’ serve in the very next game as he went on to win his first Enniskillen title 7-5, 6-2.
The B championships have enjoyed very competitive entries over recent years but with new players coming in from Longford and Lisburn the challenge was even greater this year. This did not deter the local Fermanagh players as Andrea Irvine and Vanessa McBrien won an epic battle 10-8 in the championship tie break to take the B Ladies doubles title against Lisa Greaves and Jenny Humphreys. With all four players at their best there were a number of exciting rallies throughout getting finals day off to the perfect start.
In a testament to the quality of this year’s overall entry, there were only two out of 15 titles retained by last year’s winners. One of those were Donegal mother and daughter pairing of Doreen and Maria Jones who battled to a three set victory in the final against Manorhamilton’s Mary Gilgunn and Bernie McManus.
There was much success for local players in the C competitions with Irvinestown in particular to the fore. The well-rested Brendan King went home with two titles winning the C Mens doubles with David Lowe and then immediately following this up with a win in the C Mixed with Joanne Daly.
The final title to stay local saw Enniskillen favourite Hugh Maguire beat Marc McGuckian from Cavan to take the C Men’s singles crown.
During prize giving Maxine thanked Blake’s of the Hollow for their ongoing and generous sponsorship and thanked the clubs and players for their continued support. There was also a raffle run by Donal Burns which raised almost £400 for The Children With Cancer Unit in Belfast and The Angel Wishes Charity.