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Work that backhand Conor, You go girl!

I confess when I heard that Conor Niland had qualified for the Wimbledon main draw earlier this year, my first emotion was, frankly, surprise, rather than utmost confidence in Nilands’ tennis skills.  Nevertheless,  I watched his first round match against a young French player,  Adrian Mannarino.  It was a tense encounter without a doubt.  Niland was playing some of his best tennis of his career so far,  He was hitting every ball at such a rip-roaring pace and with unerring accuracy, the fact Niland had never made it to the main draw of a Grand Slam seemed completely implausible. It was when Niland was serving at 4-2 up in the 5th set that had a burglar entered my house and made away with all my worldly possessions, I would scarcely have noticed,  so happily was I enveloped in “Niland Mania”.

Unfortunately it was not to be. Nilands unhappy tendency to sometimes lose his focus during the big points let him down. Mannarino won in 5 sets.  After sulking for a while,  (I take losses like this in my stride) I was fully able to appreciate the enormity of what Niland had achieved.  Nilands’ breakthrough to join the elite club of the main draw in a grand Slam was both admirable and impressive.  Let us not,  at this point, my friends,  get so carried away in the Niland train that we go beyond the station of sense and instead end up at the stop of  “Lower irrational street”.  Louk Sorensen played a central part in raising the profile of Irish tennis, by reaching the 2nd round of the Australian Open earlier this January.

 

You just keep doin' yo' thang Louk!

So when the U.S. Open qualifiers rolled around, imagine our shock and delight  when, not one, but two Irish tennis players, Conor Niland and Louk Sorenson,  fought their way to the main draw of the event at Flushing Meadows.  Irish tennis fans celebrated up and down the country.  The feeling of euphoria and excitement of what was to come was similar to that of the tension felt before the annual “running of the bulls” festival in Pamplona. Though, hopefully with less injuries.

The tennis drawers are no softies, however, and both Niland and Sorenson received very difficult opponents. Niland to play world number 1 and the seemingly invincible Novak Djokovic. Sorenson was drawn against tricky Swede Robin Soderling, who is mainly remembered for the epic match in which he toppled Rafa at the French Open. Both of the Irish lads have proved they are not to be meddled with however, and perhaps they will make this years’ U.S. Open one to remember.

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