Irish Open: No luck for Irish hopefuls – Cannon Kirk Homes Irish Open 2013

Oisin Logan and David Ryan - two of Ireland's top juniors in action today

It was a busy day at Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club on the opening day of the Cannon Kirk Homes Irish Open 2013, with plenty of Irish interest in both events.

While touring Irish professionals Madeline Perry, Aisling Blake, and Arthur Gaskin aren’t called into action until the main draws begin on Wednesday, today seven Irish hopefuls had the opportunity to test their mettle against international competition. In the ladies’ event, both Griffin Gillanders and Fiona Power were outclassed by their Dutch and French opposition. And neither Irish under 15s champion Stephanie Ryan nor national team player Ciara Moloney were able to get a prestigious game off their opponents.

In the men’s draw young Sean Conroy kicked off proceedings against in-form Lucas Serme, but the Frenchman proved too hot to handle. Serme comes off winning three PSA tournaments this year, and certainly one of the most dangerous looking qualifiers. It wasn’t looking good for young David Ryan – one of Europe’s top U17 players – when he went down 2:11 and 6:11 to Englishman and world number 141 Alex Phillips. But in game three David put up a fantastic display of high-energy Squash, matching his more experienced opponent rally for rally. But at this level David learnt that you have to use your chances, and after squandering two gameballs in the tie-breaker of the third, he lost 14:16 and therewith the match 0:3.

Here’s what David had to say after his epic third game: “In the beginning he just blew me away, the pace was just so high and I was rushing things a bit. The pace is just so much higher than what I am used to at junior level, and it took me a game and a half to find my rhythm, but once I started finding my length, I also gradually grew in confidence. Particularly in the third game I got tighter on my backhand and just dug in. A few good volleys helped me to get two gameballs and  I really thought I’d sneak one, but he also hit some outrageous winners. It was a real eye opener for me because it’s the first time I played a current PSA player. And I learned that I need far more of these type matches – I wish I could play these matches every week! And on the other hand, I am also not as far off from this standard as I might have thought. Of course my legs were burning like crazy in the third game, but I was really happy to stick with him in that third game.

My plans for the short-term now are to hopefully play more local PSA tournaments in Ireland, and to establish myself in the Irish Premier circuit – there are some great players here in Ireland, too: Derek Ryan, Stevie Richardson, Arthur Gaskin… In the longer term I’d like to also play the professional circuit for a few years, but that’ll be after college!

With that it was left to david’s Sutton team mate Oisin Logan to win that elusive game for Ireland, but unfortunately Frenchman Johan Bouquet was too good on the day. In other men’s results Joel Hinds beat fellow Englishman Ben Coleman in a gruelling 81 minutes encounter. And while Joel may have beaten a higher ranked player, he is only coming back from injury and Coleman would have known of Hinds’ ability. Spanish interest also remains in the tournament with Alejandro Garbi Caro beating Scotsman Kevin Moran in a close 3:0. especially the small but boisterous contingent of Spanish fans were especially happy.

The number one seed in the female qualifying draw Gaby Huber of Switzerland squeezed past Chloe Mesic (FRA) in a close 3:1 and faces Mariam Metwally of Egypt tomorrow. Huber quite remarkably came back form a 5:10 deficit in the third and secured a 2:1 lead, which was ultimately enough to overome her French opposition. Huber is a former world 29 and is just recovering from an achilles injury and is looking to qualify for the main draw tomorrow. In the last match of the day number two seed Dion Saffrey beat Hariett Ingham 3:0 – Ingham was a late replacement due to a late withdrawal and just about made it in time for her match.

The final qualifying matches will begin tomorrow at 2pm, in Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club. Entry to all matches is free, and our free online streaming via begins on Thursday. – Dan Zilic