16 Feb Boys U16 Winter Cup Update
Ireland’s U16 Boys team returned from Bergen in Norway today (16th February) finishing in eight position at the Tennis Europe Winter Cup Qualifying Round. Despite some valiant efforts from the Irish team comprised of Belfast’s Tony Rush, Greystones’ Alan Gleeson, Dublin’s Ross Hurley and non-playing captain Johnny McCormack the Irish team failed to come out victorious in their three ties over the weekend.
On Day One the Irish were dealt the toughest of draws when they were selected to go toe to toe with group favourites and No.1 seeds Slovenia. The Eastern Europeans boasted no more than two players ranked in the top 60 in Europe at U16 level. Slovenia’s Matej Leljak opened proceeding on Friday morning with a strong win over Ireland’s No.2 Alan Gleeson 6-3, 6-1 and the tie was soon over as a competition when European No. 44 Luka Gorjup beat Tony Rush in straight sets 6-3, 6-3. The Slovenians rounded off Day One with another win in the final doubles rubber 6-2, 6-3 over the Gleeson/Hurley partnerships to record an emphatic 3-0 victory.
Ireland went into Day Two facing Danish opposition after they were defeated by their near neighbours Sweden on Day Two. The Irish players were confident that they could do much better on Day Two with the Danes having a similar ranking at U16 European level as the Irish boys. This proved to be the case, being a much tighter affair than the previous days te with Slovenia. Once more Alan Gleeson opened the days play facing Hans Stentoft. The Danish No.2 recorded first blood stealing the first set in a tense tie-breaker but his momentum couldn’t carry him through the remaining two sets with Alan fighting back strongly, winning in three 7-6(3), 2-6, 4-6. Danish No.1 Mikael Torpegaard brought the tie to a final deciding rubber against Tony Rush. Although winning the first set the Dane fought back strongly eventually outgunning his Irish counterpart 4-6, 7-5, 6-1. The remaining rubber brought Rush and Gleeson together to meet with Mohammed Shabib and Torpegaard. The Danish duo finally came out on top in straight sets win 3-6, 5-7 relegating the Irish to a 7th/8th place play-off on the final day.
The final day brought opposition in the form of hosts Norway, but again the standard proved too strong and the Irish cam out on the wrong-side of a 3-0 scoreline. Johnny McCormack gave Ross Hurley the chance to experience his first singles match at Winter Cup with Alan Gleeson playing at No.1 for the day, but both were unfortunate to lose in straight sets.