Waterford played host to the under 16’s Girls National Matchplays last weekend. The Tournament welcomed the most prestigious of young tennis talent from the four Provinces. All sixteen girls had qualified from their region and then their province. The matchplay format consists of playing several high quality matches, where every player will ultimately finish with a national ranking.
Two of the sixteen girls were from Enniskillen Tennis club, Eimear Smyth and Sarah Cousins. Eimear lost her first match against the number five seed Heather Naughton who eventually progressed to the semis. Sarah enjoyed better fortune in her first match beating Kate Finnegan comfortably 6-1 6-1 but lost out narrowly in a final set tie-break to Aoife Fitzgerald from Naas, for a semi-final place.
Eimear enjoyed a good win over Katie Foley 6-1 6-2 before being drawn against Sarah in the next round. On this occasion, Eimear came out on top and it really underlines the rapid improvement shown by Eimear over the last six months. Her consistency, speed around the court and penetrating shots to the baseline are key strengths that many opponents find difficult to overcome. Eimear progressed with a further win over Megan Chambers 7-6 7-6 only to lose out in a play-off for fifth place to Isabel Browne.
Both Sarah and Eimear can look forward to the upcoming season of tournaments and their coach Matthew McGann must take a lot of satisfaction in seeing both girls performing so well at the highest level. In addition, fellow squad member, Kyran Maguire of Irvinestown Tennis Club also took part in the Nationals at U16 and emerged with a very credible 12th place finish. This does not tell the whole story however because Kyran only narrowly lost out in a match that would have otherwise seen him finish in the top 8.