Three of the four wildcards for the US$25,000 Configure Express Pro Circuit Women’s tennis event in Wellington, 28 February - 4 March at the Renouf Centre have been confirmed with a mix of youth and experience set to take to the court in search of international rankings.
A wildcard entry has been awarded to Emily Fanning the 16- year-old Kiwi originally from Timaru, but now based in Australia who has a current junior ITF (International Tennis Federation) ranking of 56 and is hoping to make her mark in the senior WTA events this year.
Fanning has put in some solid results in Junior Grand Slams over the past 18 months and is a big hope for New Zealand women’s tennis.
Also confirmed is former New Zealand Fed Cup team member, Canterbury’s Di Hollands. Hollands has been ranked as high as 623 in the world in singles in late 2009 and 572 in doubles mid last year. The 28-year-old has a current ranking of 948 in singles after a disjointed professional tennis career with injuries and family commitments. She was a NCAA top-10 ranked singles player while at University in the United States and is known as a very athletic player on the court and has done well in tournaments with the same prizemoney in the past.
Joining Fanning and Hollands is 15-year-old Aucklander Claudia Williams who has represented New Zealand in various junior events around the world and is ranked around the 50 mark in her age group (born after 1995). She was named 2010 Auckland junior tennis player of the year and is New Zealand's third ranked junior tennis player.
One main draw wildcard place is yet to be confirmed.
The tournament has a good mix of experience and youth in its main entry list with the top seed South African 19-year-old Chanel Simmonds who is a former world top-20 junior player and the winner of three US$25,000 titles last year with a reputation for being a potential star in the making. She has a current ranking of 188.
Second seed is Australian, Isabella Holland at 195 followed by Japan’s Aiko Nakamura at 221. Nakamura plays two-handed on both sides of her body and was ranked as high as No47 in the world in singles in 2007 and 64 in doubles a year later.
She has had wins over players such as Caroline Wozniacki and Flavia Pennetta and has faced legendary players such as Martina Hingis and Justine Henin as well as many other top 10 players. Her best WTA rest was making the final of the big Tokyo tournament in 2006 as well as the quarterfinals of five WTA events in her career. She also has two US$50,000 titles to her credit and two US$25,000 tournament wins. It will be her first time playing in Wellington.
Former Kiwi No1 Sacha Jones is set to be the fourth seed. Jones ranked at 231 in the world won the New Zealand Championship title in December and then switched to being an Australian player. She was ranked as high as 157 in the world and was the No11th ranked junior, but now sits as the ninth ranked Australian player.
Australians Bojana Bobusic and Monique Adamczak are the fifth and sixth entrants at 238 and 269 in the rankings followed by Japan’s Erika Takao who currently sits at 271 after being as high as 128 six years ago. The eighth seed is Russian Arina Rodionova ranked at 290. Arina’s sister, Anastasia is a top 100 ranked player for Australia.
Another player of note outside the top eight is Brit, Melanie South who has been ranked inside the world’s top 100 players.
Qualifying to be held at the Renouf Tennis Centre Saturday 25 February - Monday 27 February. The main draw play of the US$25,000 Configure Express Pro Circuit event starts Tuesday 27 February – Thursday 29 February from 11am with gold coin entry. Friday 1 March is singles quarterfinals and doubles final from 11am, Saturday 2 March singles semi-finals from 1pm with the final on Sunday 4 March from 1pm, $10 entry fee for the final three days.