Tennis

Boys' Tennis 2015 - 2016

Boys’ Tennis enjoyed a successful season in 2015-2016, particularly in the Junior School with an influx of enthusiastic Year 8 players and with the Year 10 team winning the Junior Cup.

For the Senior team, the School’s Cup underwent a change of format this year and, with the adoption of a knock-out system, Friends’ knew that defeat would all but end their season at a premature stage. The Senior Boys were drawn against a strong Christian Brothers side from Omagh in the opening round so knew they would have their work cut out. Regulars Jordan McKnight and Matias Olave were ruled out through injury and exam commitments, so Hugo Henderson and Cameron Watson were called upon to join Thomas Latimer and Bryce Brittain-Dissont. Omagh were tough opponents and, despite their best efforts, Friends’ were defeated 5-1, with Hugo Henderson and Cameron Watson impressively winning their doubles match.

The Intermediate team, consisting of Hugo Henderson, Cameron Watson, Harry Shaw and Zak Nixon, were drawn against neighbours Wallace in their respective cup. Again, a change in format meant defeat would see them eliminated from the cup completely, and news of an injury to Harry Shaw meant Luke Schofield was drafted in. It was a closely contested match but ultimately Wallace come out on top 5-1, with Cameron Watson winning in his singles match.

The Junior team, made up of Carter Gregg, Conor Quinn, Ross Little and Jack Harte, were placed in a tough group alongside Dalriada, Ballyclare High, Killicomaine and Sullivan. They opened their campaign with a 4-2 victory over Dalriada thanks to singles wins from Gregg, Quinn and Little. This was followed by a 6-0 win over Killicomaine and a walkover result against Ballyclare, meaning victory over Sullivan would see them top the group. A close match ensued but Friends’ came out 4-2 winners, performing particularly well in the doubles. This Friends’ team were runners up in the Minor Cup in Year 8 but if they were to go one step further they would have to do it the hard way as a play-off with RBAI was needed before the semi-final round. Friends’ rallied to an impressive 6-0 win to set up a semi-final with favourites Campbell College. As expected, this was a much closer affair and two wins in the doubles were crucial once again in securing the match for Friends’. With the score poised at 3-2 to Friends’ and Campbell leading in the last singles match, it looked like the fixture would be decided on games won, but Quinn came back brilliantly from match point down at 3-7 to win his singles match on a tiebreaker and seal a 4-2 win for the school. The final was played against Bangor Grammar and was another thrilling encounter. After Gregg lost 2-7 to Bangor’s number 1 seed, Quinn defeated his opposite number 7-1 before Little&Harte added another point with a doubles win to put Friends’ ahead 2-1. Gregg&Quinn won their doubles after a pulsating tiebreak, meaning Little’s 7-4 win in the singles secured the match and the cup for Friends’. It was an exciting end to a great season and the boys fully deserved their success.

The Minors enjoyed their first experience of competitive tennis with Friends’ by progressing to the semi-final of the plate competition. They were placed in a group with Dalriada, Sullivan and Ballyclare High, and began with victory over Dalriada. The match was decided on games won, with Friends’ winning 27 games to 21. Special mention should go to Mackenzie Connor who played a crucial role, winning 6-0 in the singles and 6-2 in the doubles alongside Eddie Corrigan. A walkover result against Ballyclare meant that victory over Sullivan would see Friends’ through to the semi-final of the cup, whilst defeat would see them progress in the plate. The Minors played well but lost 5-1 to set up a plate match against eventual winners Bangor Grammar. It was a huge surprise to see a side of Bangor’s quality in the plate so the boys knew a tough task lay ahead. They were defeated 6-0 in comprehensive fashion but showed great character and can be proud of their efforts despite the score line.

It was an enjoyable season for all involved and the boys were a great credit to the school both in victory and defeat. Special mention should go to Bryce Brittain-Dissont and Thomas Latimer who were awarded Full Colours, and to Mackenzie Connor for his involvement with Ulster tennis.