Tournament 1 Jan 2020

Kiwi’s secure prized wildcard spots to ASB Classic

by Rhonda Karl
Kiwi’s secure prized wildcard spots to ASB Classic

Three Kiwi’s have secured much sought after wildcard spots to the ASB Classic and come to Auckland ready to make their mark on international tennis.

New Zealand No. 1 Paige Hourigan has been granted a main draw wildcard to the ASB Classic. Currently ranked 438 on the WTA Tour and 208 on the ITF rankings, the 22-year-old is finding her feet in her first full year as a professional tennis player.

Hourigan had a great start to 2019, reaching the doubles final of the ASB Classic with fellow Georgia Tech graduate, American Taylor Townsend. The powerful Kiwi then went on to win two ITF doubles titles in Singapore and Arizona, pairing up with American teen sensation and fellow ASB Classic player Coco Gauff to win in the American event.

Hourigan has also won two ITF singles titles and eight ITF doubles titles and comes back to Auckland in great form winning after the New Zealand Nationals in early December.

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“I’m so excited! After having a few hiccups this year and some family issues, I’m just happy to be back out there competing and loving tennis again. I had an amazing time at the ASB Classic last year and am really excited to be back. Can’t wait to play in front of New Zealand again!” said Hourigan.

Kiwi duo Erin Routliffe and Valentina Ivanov will get opportunities in the qualifying draw with players receiving a wildcard to the qualifying draw.  

18-year-old Ivanov had a strong start to her first season of College tennis in America. The talented Kiwi compiled a 12-4 singles record to see her ranked No. 20 on the Oracle ITA poll.  Born in Christchurch but based in Sydney, the teenager holds age group national titles in both Australia and New Zealand and last year became the first New Zealand tennis player to compete at the youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.

24-year old Erin Routliffe has had consistent results in doubles throughout 2019 and has a current ranking of 145. However, her focus this weekend will be getting her first singles win at the ASB Classic. 

The final two qualifying wildcards have been given to players outside of New Zealand, former doubles world No. 1 Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Australian Arina Rodionova.

ASB Classic Tournament Director Karl Budge said deciding who to give these wildcards to was not an easy choice.

 “The quality of the Women’s field this year was such that there was high demand for these wildcards. We’re happy to be able to provide opportunities for Kiwi players at the ASB Classic, and we hope the New Zealand fans come out and support these players" said Budge.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands is one of the most colorful and entertaining players on the WTA Tour, and has won an Olympic gold medal, five Grand Slam doubles titles and three Grand Slam mixed doubles titles in her 20-year career on tour.  The fun-loving American has been ranked as high as No. 30 in singles and comes back to Auckland with the same amount of energy and determination as ever.

30-year old Arina Rodionova guaranteed her spot at the ASB Classic after winning the Australian Open Wildcard Playoff last month. Rodionova has captured 9 ITF singles titles and 38 ITF doubles titles in her career, her current WTA ranking is 204. The Australian was close to break inside the top 100 in 2017 and will hope she can transfer her wildcard into ranking points.  

The ASB Classic has worked alongside Tennis New Zealand’s high-performance director, Simon Rea and Tennis Australia to arrange a deal that will benefit our local players. The tournament has exchanged wildcards allowing New Zealand tennis players opportunities in Australia and in return the ASB Classic has awarded one of their qualifying wildcards to an Australian.

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