Re: irish tennis
Article rank 28 Feb 2013Belfast TelegraphDavid Kelly
DOMINO EFFECT CAN HELP STARLET SHOOT UP THE WORLD RANKINGS
KAROLA Bejenaru has received an ideal boost to her bid to move up the International Tennis Federation junior rankings with a sponsorship deal from Dominos Pizza.
Slice of the action: Karola Bejenaru has clinched a new sponsorship deal with Dominos Pizza
The number one Irish junior, 15, is currently ranked 820 in the under-18 ITF rankings but with the extra financial backing the east Belfast teenager, born in Romania, will have the opportunity to enter more events and hopefully climb the world rankings.
Currently, Sport NI do not support any tennis players so the top juniors can only rely on a small amount from the Mary Peters Trust but Bejenaru is hoping that if she can boost her ranking then more funding may come her way.
Dad Leonard, who delivers pizzas for Dominos, is delighted with the deal which applies to tournaments in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. And the Belfast Telegraph played its part in bringing about the sponsorship, having highlighted the efforts of Leonard to enable Karola to fulfill her potential, including at one point holding down two jobs.
That led to one reader offering his support and now Dominos are backing the 15-year-old Orangefield High student, who became the second youngest in history to lift the under-18 title at the Irish Open last
Since then she has been going through her daily routine of early morning and afternoon training, while at Christmas she won the Irish under-18 indoor title in Dublin and also made the semi-finals of the women’s event — losing a three-hour thriller.
Dad Leonard said: “I am very pleased that Dominos have got behind Karola and helped her.
“Dominos have been very good to me, giving me the time off I need to take Karola to tournaments and after they saw the story about Karola and I in the Belfast Telegraph they had said they would look at helping us. “It’s not easy going to tournaments, paying for flights, hotel and food — one time I slept in the car for a week while Karola slept in the hotel. Last year when we went to Nottingham for two weeks it cost around £3,000.
“When you look at the rankings you see a lot of the players at the top have done many more events,” he explained.
“It is down to cost but this is a big help and I think it is the first time that a player from Northern Ireland has received this kind of sponsorship.
“The plan is to do as many ITFs as we can before May when Karola will have GCSE exams and then after June she can do some more.
“One of the events will be at home because Windsor are going to be hosting an ITF, the first to come to Belfast which will be great.
“Compared to players in Britain and Germany and France we are still way behind, they are given a lot of money by their federations but this is a start and if more people can get behind Karola it would be a big help.”
Karola’s Windsor Tennis Club coach Przemek Stec has set his protege the target of getting into the top 400.
Stec said: “We really appreciate Dominos giving Karola this support. It opens up more opportunities for her and now we want to see her push on towards the top 400 in the ITF.
“Then we can start working towards her competing in the likes of junior Wimbledon and the other Grand Slam junior events. It is very tough to make your way up the rankings when you are based in Northern Ireland. In other countries the federation will give money to the top players but that doesn’t happen here so the costs are massive.
“Karola is working very hard with the rest of the players in our elite squad who are getting ready for Ulster matchplays.”