The status quo for the top four seeds in the men’s singles draw of the New Zealand Tennis Championships was ruined by a relatively unknown player in blustery conditions at North Harbour in the quarter-finals.
Top ranked Finn Tearney, third seed Michael Venus and fourth seed Artem Sitak all progressed to the semifinals with their eyes firmly on the prize of the national title and the main draw singles wildcard into the ASB Class. However second seed Rubin Statham was defeated by Rhett Purcell 6-4 6-4.
Purcell, aged 19 was born in Gisborne, schooled in Hawkes Bay, London and Sacred Heart in Auckland and plays tennis under the British flag, including junior Wimbledon last year. Although he’s not getting into any debate about who he should represent if his tennis takes off on the professional circuit.
“This is probably the best win I have. I don’t have a ranking yet, so it’s no point talking about who I really play for,” said Purcell who now faces Artem Sitak in the semifinals after Sitak took three sets to put down 15-year-old Finn Reynolds from the Hawkes Bay.
Purcell is currently coached by former Kiwi pro James Greenhalgh and felt he played a good game to defeat the consistent Statham who is ranked at 388, but had been plagued by illness and injury this year. When told he would now play his semifinal on the centre court at the ASB Tennis Arena on Stanley Street, Purcell was excited. “Sweet, it will be great to play on there.”
The other men’s semifinal will feature the New Zealand No.1 Tearney ranked 365 who beat Canterbury’s Connor Heap in straight sets against Venus who was too strong for Daniel Brown 6-2 6-3.
The women’s semis feature Sacha Jones who moved through her quarter-final against Auckland teenager Caitlin Ward with relative ease and will now play the experienced Jo Carswell who spent well over two and a half hours on court to account for fourth seeded Bay of Plenty player Ashleigh Harvey.
Second seed Leela Beattie made short work of her junior opponent, Lauren Alter to set up a clash against third seed Rosie Cheng who is earmarked as a major junior prospect for New Zealand. Cheng had to battle for well over two hours to beat Bay of Plenty left-hander Nina Paripovich in three sets.
The men’s singles and doubles winners gain valuable ATP ranking points and prizemoney from wildcards into January’s ASB Classic, while the women’s doubles winners gain a main draw wildcard into the ASB Classic women’s tournament. The women’s singles winner is awarded an ASB Classic qualifying wildcard.
The Pascoes The Jewellers NZ Tennis Championship the semis and finals (Friday 11 from 2pm and Saturday 12 from 4pm) will be held at the ASB Tennis Arena in Auckland.
Pascoes The Jewellers NZ Tennis Championships, results:
Men’s singles quarter-finals :
(1) Finn Tearney (Wellington) bt (6) Connor Heap (Canterbury) 6-1 6-1, (3) Michael Venus (North Harbour) bt Daniel Brown (Auckland) 6-2 6-3, (4) Artem Sitak (Auckland) bt Finn Reynolds (Hawkes Bay) 5-7 7-5 6-0, Rhett Purcell (Auckland) bt (2) Rubin Statham (Auckland) 6-4 6-4.
Women’s singles quarter-finals:
(1) Sacha Jones (Auckland) bt Caitlin Ward (Auckland) 6-3 6-2, Joanna Carswell (Auckland) bt (4) Ashleigh Harvey (Tauranga) 5-7 6-3 6-2, (3) Rosie Cheng (North Harbour) bt (5) Nina Paripovich (Bay of Plenty)1-6 6-3 6-3, (2) Leela Beattie (Auckland) bt (6) Lauren Alter (North Harbour) 6-0 6-0.