Nugent given testing time

 

Stephen Nugent, the number one seed, didn't exactly storm through to the second round of the Irish Open junior tennis championships at Fitzwilliam yesterday, but the ITF title winner nonetheless welcomed the early vibrant challenge provided by Ulster prospect Damian O'Connor "to keep me on my toes".

Nugent is dedicated to the task of being national under-18 champion, a feat which would enable him to emulate his brother Michael, the former Davis Cup player. But it was touch and go in the second set, before he claimed a 6-2, 6-4 win.

In O'Connor he found an opponent well able to mix it from the base line and in possession of an arsenal of shots clearly capable of testing the favourite. Nugent's successful bid in the ITF world points event recently as well as his sojourn at the Bollitieri Academy in Florida, where he practised with the Williams sisters gave him an obvious edge in experience.

David O'Connell, the number three seed, had it somewhat easier, dropping only two games to Cian O Brolchain and it was much the same story for Conor Taylor, seeded five against Munster's Stephen Brugha.