By Daire Walsh
Down’s Peter Bothwell will face Ryan James Storrie in the AIG Irish Open Tennis Championship men’s singles final today, after he came through an energy-sapping penultimate round encounter with Britain’s Joshua Paris at Carrickmines.
Although the Hillsborough native won in straight sets, he was made to work for his place in the decider by the stubborn Paris.
Both players managed to hold serve initially, before Bothwell – seeded seventh for the tournament – secured four games in succession to claim the opening set in clinical style, 6-2.
However, after losing a game that was tied at deuce on no fewer than nine occasions, Bothwell fell into a 6-5 deficit in a lengthy second set. The 22-year-old Irishman was not to denied, though, and he broke Paris’ serve to set-up a nerve-wracking tie-breaker – that he ultimately edged 7-5.
Storrie will offer a stern resistance in the showpiece affair, particularly in light of his gruelling three-set triumph against Stefan Seifert in the day’s other semi-final.
There was disappointment for Dubliner Julie Byrne in her women’s singles semi-final as she was defeated in straight sets, 6-4 6-3, by Great Britain’s Emily Appleton.
Despite being up against the tournament’s top ranked performer, Byrne hadn’t dropped a set in her three previous encounters and looked set to continue this trend when she developed an early 4-2 lead.
Yet, the ice-cool Appleton won four games on the trot to take the first set and remained a couple of steps ahead of the Northwestern University student in the second.
Appleton will face another Briton in Sasha Hill in the final. Hill beat France’s Alice Robbe 6-3 7-6 to reach the decider. Both finals will be live on TG4.