Bud Collins

No luck for this Irish duo

By Bud Collins
Globe Correspondent / September 1, 2011

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NEW YORK - Were weeping and wailing heard throughout the streets of South Boston yesterday?

Possibly. But maybe the word hadn’t gotten around yet about the failure of two gallant Irishmen trying to break into the US Open and create some tennis history.

According to tournament officials, no Irishman had ever pushed beyond the first round of the 130-year-old US championship, so somebody had to be the bearer of sad tidings to Southie, the Irish capital beyond the Emerald Isle.

Not that Southie is a tennis stronghold.

“But we thought we could win a match or two,’’ said one of the two entries, Louk Sorensen, who divides his time between Cork and Stuttgart, Germany, where he plays on a club team. His colleague, Conor Niland, hailing from Limerick, is the Irish champ.

Although their rankings weren’t very high, the numbers were good enough to get them into the qualifying tournament, where they won their way into the main draw with three wins apiece. They felt as proud as the patriots Daniel O’Connell and Michael Collins.

And rich, too, at age 29.

“The money was wonderful,’’ said Sorensen, “especially the way things are at home these days. Nineteen-thousand-dollars apiece! That’ll buy a lot of Guinness.’’

I said, “You ought to buy it in Southie. We could have a parade down Broadway. You ever been there?’’

“No,’’ said Niland, “but every good Irishman in the world knows where Southie is.’’

When it was time for the draw, Niland’s face sagged for a moment. His opponent was only No. 1, Novak Djokovic.

“It’s OK,’’ Niland said to his pal. “I always wanted to play a top-10 guy. Great experience.’’

“Yes. When they peel you off the court,’’ said Sorensen. “But don’t worry. I’ve got the match we need. Also a top- 10 guy, Robin Soderling. He’s sick and defaulted to me, so I’m in the second round.’’

Then an official informed Sorensen that Brazilian Rogerio Dutra Da Silva had replaced Soderling and would face Sorensen.

That’s when the cave-in took over.

As you might expect, Niland had a little trouble with Djokovic Tuesday. It took 12 games until Niland surrendered to food poisoning, trailing, 6-0, 5-1. Backhand poisoning from No. 1 didn’t help.

Then yesterday, it was up to Sorensen to save the day - to grab a match somehow. He held up, sort of. Da Silva was ahead, 6-0, 3-6, 6-4, 1-0, before Sorensen quit because of cramps all over his body.

Ireland was ironed flat.

“We need more practice and conditioning,’’ Sorensen said. “Tennis isn’t big in Ireland, but we really wanted to get one match, to show we could do it.’’

It was enough to make you cry for dear old Ireland. I consoled them that the Irish physician, Joshua Pim, won Wimbledon in 1893 and 1894. Life could get better.

In 1879, an Irishman, Wimbledon runner-up Vere Goold, was convicted of murder. (Hot shots?)

“Never heard of them,’’ said Sorensen, “but we didn’t want to win it that bad.’’