Last week saw an influx of visitors descend on Enniskillen Lawn Tennis Club for the West of Ulster Championships, one of the largest tennis tournaments in the West with 148 competitors coming from Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Belfast, Claremorris, Mullingar, Longford and Larne.

With this high number of entries came a step up in standard of play throughout the tournament. The Club was a very busy venue over the course of the week from Monday evening to finals day on Sunday with large gathering of spectators being treated to displays of high quality action and tightly fought matches.

It was great to see many of the Club’s newer lady members participating in their first Senior Open Tournament and all doing well. The newer members included Fiona Balfour, Diane Bell, Corrie Cadden, Lucy Gannon, Helen Kettyle, Orlagh McCreesh, Anne Marie Rice, Helena Stirling and Niamh Webb. Fiona Balfour did particularly well in her first Senior Open Tournament on reaching the C Ladies Singles Finals.

For the men, the new members participating were Niall Dolan, Jurgen Hoogerboord, Giles Knight, Brian McAuliffe and Michael Preston who all played well in the tournament.

Brian did exceptionally well in reaching the B Men’s Singles quarter finals and then partnering up with Charlie Hutchings in the B Men’s Doubles where they both had a great match against John Maguire of Irvinestown and Peter Craig of Omagh. Brian played lots of accurate lobs and baseline shots while Charlie played lots of fine shot making at the net.

The B Men’s Doubles Final was a fought hard match with Declan McBride of Enniskillen who partnered up with Andy Moore but it was John Maguire and Peter Craig who eventually won the match.

Martina Boyd and Vanessa McBrien of Enniskillen played in the B Ladies Doubles and had some great matches on their way to the finals but lost to Orla Malone and Bernice Clarke of Cavan.

The B Mixed Doubles was another very tight match with Donal Burns from Enniskillen partnering with Sophia Dobbs from Larne playing against Clive Funston from Enniskillen and Noreen Cassidy from Sligo. Donal and Sophia won this match 6/4, 7/6 fighting hard to clinch the second set and the match with both sides displaying lots of shot making skills.

The A Ladies Singles was won by an in-form Eve Callaghan from Enniskillen. Eve played against Nikki Hawkes of Omagh and her pinpoint accuracy and hard hitting proved her to be a worthy winner in this event with the result of 6/2, 6/0. Eve is enjoying a successful season so far with winning the A Ladies Singles in Sligo recently and partnering with Matthew McGann to win both the A Mixed Doubles in Sligo and in Enniskillen.

The highlight of the tournament was the A Men’s Single Event. The No. 1 seed was Keith Meisner from Omagh who had just won the A Men’s Singles Tournament recently in Sligo. However, Keith had to retire because of injury after his first match and this then led to a big opening in this event for the other very competitive participants to take on the challenge of winning the A Men’s Singles.

Francis Venzon from Butt Hall Tennis Club proved to be the worthy winner of this event. On his way to the final he beat the No. 2 seed from Irvinestown, Greg Boxer and in this match Francis hardly made a mistake displaying very hard hitting shots. His final match was against Andrew Hatrick of City of Derry Tennis Club. Both players played a high quality match with full of hard hitting baseline rallies and displaying a wide range of shot making skills but it was Francis who took the third set championship tie break beating Andrew 6/2, 2/6, 10/5.

It was a great day for Francis who doubled up with Ross McCarey from the Belfast Boat Tennis Club to win the A Men’s Doubles event.

The presentation of the prizes was made by the Chair of the Club, Maxine Leary, who thanked all the competitors for participating in the Tournament and she also thanked all those who helped out with the refreshments that were provided throughout the week. It was noted and very much appreciated among the visiting players the level of hospitality shown to them over the course of the tournament.

Results of the Tournament: A Mens Singles, 1 Francis Venzon, 2 Andrew Hatrick: A Ladies Singles, 1 Eve Callaghan, 2 Nikki Hawkes: B Mens Singles, 1 Robert Thompson, 2 Andy Moore: B Ladies Singles, 1 Sophia Dobbs, 2 Hilary Kilcawley: C Mens Singles, 1 Michael Conlon, 2 Trevor Lucy: C Ladies Singles, 1 Aoibhinn O’Neill, 2 Fiona Balfour: A Mens Doubles, 1 Ross McCarey and Francis Venzon, 2 John Slowey and David Ward: A Ladies Doubles, 1 Nikki Hawkes and Donna McSorely, 2 Noreen Cassidy and Orla Malone: B Mens Doubles, 1 Peter Craig and John Maguire, 2 Declan McBride and Andy Moore: B Ladies Doubles, 1 Bernice Clarke and Orla Malone, 2 Martina Boyd and Vanessa McBrien: C Mens Doubles, 1 Trevor Lucy and Cliff Worley, 2 David Lowe and Joseph Whaley: C Ladies Doubles, 1 Grainne Small and Anna St George, 2 Clare Lynch and Sasha Pastukhova: A Mixed Doubles, 1 Matthew McGann and Eve Callaghan, 2 Andrew McKeeman and Nikki Hawkes: B Mixed Doubles, 1 Donal Burns and Sophia Dobbs: C Mixed Doubles, 1 Phil Dilleyston and Maria Jones, 2 Cliff Worley and Kathy Atchison