TWO talented teenagers really stole the show at the recent Louth Senior Tennis Open with some blistering performances in numerous events.
Joseph Mullen and Neil Jones, reached the final of the Singles Championship tournament, in doing so becoming the youngest ever players to reach the final of the annual event.
With top seeds David Black from Bettystown, and David Spollen from Castleknock, Dublin ruled out with injury this gave the young stars an excellent opportunity to reach the finals of the open for the very first time. The opportunity was too good to miss and both teenagers grabbed it with both hands.
Mullen, who is ranked among the top 10 players in Ireland at U15 level, accounted for Jack Young in straight sets in the opening round before receiving a walkover to then go on and defeat Robbie Carr in straight sets to reach the final.
Jones, who is ranked among the top five in Ireland at U14 level, also came through his opener against Briefne Holohan in straight sets. He also received a walkover in the next round before defeating Joseph Fay to set up a final meeting with Mullen.
Both youngsters, coached by John McGahon at Dundalk Tennis Club, faced off in the final. Mullen, who managed to secure victory in straight sets, just had too much on the day for Jones who battled well and can be very proud of his efforts
Jones did pick up silverware however. He was involved in the mens’ doubles and his partner was none other than Mullen. They had quite a run and defeated the team of Eoghan and Paddy McCullen 7-5, 6-4 in the final to clinch a memorable victory.
Mullen wasn’t finished though as he teamed up with Ruth Copas in the Mixed Doubles and they surged to victory, defeating his own mens’ partner Neil Jones and Eadoin Casey 6-1 7-5 to seal victory in the competitive tournament.
This was a huge success for Dundalk Tennis Club, and in particular young Joseph Mullen, who quite spectacularly managed to secure victory in the three events that he entered and at the very top level of the tournament.
It is an unprecedented achievement as he is the youngest player ever to win the Open and also the youngest ever to be victorious in all three events - the Mens’ Singles, Mens’ Doubles and the Mixed Doubles.
The success gained at this tournament is all down to hard work. Coach John McGahon, a Davis Cup player and head coach of Leinster Tennis and Dundalk Tennis Club coaches Joseph throughout the year at McGahon’s Tennis Academy.
The academy incorporates heavy technical instruction along with tennis specific physical conditioning. Matchplay skills and mental training are also features of the academy where players spar off with one another every week.
The year is divided up into different themes and sections. Pre-season training begins in September where players prepare themselves for the Junior National Indoor championships at David Lloyd which is held at Riverview, Dublin.
In the second part of the year players then prepare for the Easter events held at Templeogue and Brookfield in Dublin. After these events the academy hones in again on the players specific needs and prepares them tactically, mentally, physically and technically for the biggest junior event in the country, the Fitzwilliam Junior Lawn Tennis Championships.
For Mullen and Jones, this was a stunning effort and a great achievement.
Every year in June and July, the country is gripped with Wimbledon fever. Always looking towards the foreign superstars like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, Joseph Mullen’s and Neil Jones’ success is something that should be recognised and celebrated.
Who knows maybe they could be our very own Federer and Nadal in the years ahead!