22 SEP 2021
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Top tennis returns to Kilbroney Park

15 September 2021

Sunday August 29 saw the finale of the John McMahon and Co Accountants sponsored singles at Rostrevor Tennis Club with plenty of talent on display. 

The men’s final was a repeat, for the fifth consecutive year, of Shane McAteer, Newry’s number one, against Arghal McMahon, Rostrevor’s number one.  

Shane is always improving in some part of his game. He had faced little serious competition in his earlier matches and hadn’t dropped a game to reach the final. Arghal had faced a test against Shane’s father in the semi and while he won comfortably, it probably helped him in his preparation for the final. 

The match was a classic Sampras v Agassi style - Shane wanted to slug it out from the baseline and Arghal wanted to get to the net and trust his volleys or overhands. 

Shane opened serving and had game point but was then pegged back to deuce and then advantage to Arghal and Shane was broken. He had an opportunity to get the break back in the next game but failed to capitalise. 

The ball striking was impressive on both sides, but with the early break, and another later in the first set, Arghal took the first set 6-2. 

Shane has improved in the placement on his forehand and he began to get the measure of Arghal’s approaches to the net with excellent passing shots. 

Arghal’s early lead in the second was pegged back with breaks of serve and twice, at 5-4 and 6-5 Arghal was serving for the tournament only to be broken. The closeness of the set meant a tiebreak seemed the fair outcome.

Many would have become defensive if their game plan appeared not to be working, but Arghal trusted in his signature volley and net play. Arghal earned a mini-break in the first point against Shane’s serve only to give one of his own back. It went on serve to three a-piece and then 4-3 to Arghal, 5-3, 6-3 and 7-3 and the tournament with a volley put away by Arghal. 

Family and friends from all the clubs and over a hundred spectators in the park gave a round of applause to the top two players in County Down.

In the Ladies main event, Celine Scott, a top player from Warrenpoint, faced Anne Greer. 

Celine is technically excellent and she has all the shots. Anne is a good competitor and a great retriever but the odds were always stacked against her. Anne’s formula was simple – keep returning and keep asking the question. 

She secured an early break over Celine. The first set was tight, but at 4-4 Celine trusted in her technique and held and broke to take it 6-4. With one set under her belt she swung with greater confidence and secured the match 6-4 6-1.

In the Ladies Plate, veteran Brigid McMahon played the up-and-coming Bridget McKeown. Bridget was coached in the club as a junior but only recently returned after a gap of several years. She took the first set comfortably 6-2, but Brigid played super tennis to keep returning the ball deep. It earned her the second set. A champion’s tiebreak followed - the first to 10 points clear by two. Brigid kept her winning formula going to take a commanding 8-6 lead, only to be pegged back by Bridget. At 9-8 to Bridget she secured victory with a lovely forehand down the line. 

In the Men’s Plate, Sean Pearce faced Michael Reynolds. Mike is relatively new to the game but has improved impressively over the last year. Sean has played longer and he came through one of the matches of the week in a three-set tussle against Colm Kernan. 

He needed to trust in his technique then and he is one of the few players who will go for and pull off winners from backhand and forehand in clutch moments. Buoyed by his victory over Colm, Sean played solid and aggressive tennis. He was patient where he had to be and aggressive when the opportunity arose. He secured victory 6-1 6-1.

In the Kilbroney Cup, veteran Gerry Sweetman played Brian O’Hare. Brian’s signature shot is his Gasquet-like one-handed backhand and he loves to come to the net and hit overheads. However, Gerry is one of Newry’s finest players and he seems capable of placing the ball on a stamp. He couldn’t out-punch Brian but he so often had Brian on a piece of string in rallies as he placed the ball in awkward spots. He took Brian’s weapons away from him through ball placement, along with solid consistent play. He won 6-1 6-1.

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