This is the first edition of a new weekly feature that will be of absolutely zero interest to most of my readers.
But being from Ireland, I’m aware that my compatriots battling it out on tour don’t get a whole lot of press apart from the News in Brief sections buried on the sports pages.
They deserve a bit more than that and if there was a place where interested parties could conveniently keep track of all players at once, perhaps they’d take the time out to familiarise themselves with the hard-working Irish pro contingent.
Time to make Shank Tennis that place.
For those of you completely unfamiliar with the Irish tennis scene, let me first offer a brief pictorial overview of the players you will surely soon regard as favourites.
There are currently no Irish players with a WTA ranking, but that is about to change as you will see if you read on.
In week three, Amy Bowtell achieved the most notable result of the Irish players by reaching the quarter-finals of the $10,000 ITF event in Wrexham as a qualfier.
The 17-year-old took out fifth seed Isabel Rapisardo-Calva in a three hour second round marathon before going down heavily to eventual champion Anna Fitzpatrick in the semi-final.
For that performance Bowtell picked up four points, which will be enough to earn her a WTA ranking for the first time when the list is updated next Monday (likely to be somewhere in the low 900′s).
Under WTA rules, a player needs to pick up points in three different tournaments to get a ranking and Bowtell makes the grade after a final in Chiswick and a second round in Sunderland last year (both $10,000 events).
Four Irish men were in action in the $15,000 Futures event in Sheffield.
Irish number three Colin O’Brien took the scalp of fifth seed Richard Bloomfield in the first round but then fell to Liam Broady.
There was more disappointment for the player when he and partner James McCluskey bowed out in the first round of the doubles event despite being seeded fourth.
Barry King came through qualifiers but lost to Frenchman Vincent Stouff at the first hurdle while teenager Sam Barry was knocked out in the final round of qualifying.
This coming week, Conor Niland will be looking to put his early season blues behind him at the Heilbronn Challneger but has been handed a tough first round clash with Marco Chiudinelli.
There were rumours that Louk Sorensen had been given a wildcard into the same event but he won’t be playing. Possibly because of the ranking technicalities I identified here.