15-year-old wins second NZ junior crown
She is only 15-years-old but Wanganui's Paige Hourigan has now won two national junior tennis championships (18's tournament) after sweeping her way to victory in the final over fellow 15-year-old Ella Hassall from Hamilton in straight sets at North Harbour.
The men's final also featured two 15-year-olds but saw an upset of sorts as sixth seed Connor Heap from Canterbury winning in three sets over Wanganui's Kyle Butters, Hourigan's cousin.
For Hourigan is was her second straight title, which has been won by all of New Zealand's best in the past and could now put her in contention for the naming of the New Zealand Fed Cup team on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Heap showed he has plenty of talent and perhaps something a little different in his game which could hold him in good stead for the future as he generally controlled the points against the more powerful Butters for a 6-2 4-6 7-5 win in the final.
All of the finalists now take part in the New Zealand Tennis Championships (formerly the NZ Residentials) with some good prizemoney on the line as well as qualifying wildcards into the ASB Classic and Heineken Open and the naming of Fed Cup and Davis Cup squads at the completion of finals.
Top men's seed is Dan King-Turner, ranked in the 300s in the world, followed by fellow Davis Cup players Michael Venus and Artem Sitak. Others ranked players include Sebastian Lavie, who is based in France, Finn Tearney from Wellington and Ben McLachlan, who is on a college scholarship in California.
Adam Thompson, the 2006 champion, is in the draw along with numerous players who are returning from scholarships in the United States.
In the women's draw, Dianne Hollands, playing her first NZ Champs since last winning the event in 2008, has a WTA ranking, as does New Zealand top junior Emily Fanning from Timaru.
A player to watch for in the women's singles is Emma Hayman, formerly from Wanganui who graduated from College of Charleston, South Carolina, and has since played some pro events.
The NZ Championships starts today and continues until Sunday at the Albany Tennis Park, North Harbour.
National Junior tennis championships results from Albany Tennis Park North Harbour:
Men's final: Connor Heap (Canterbury) bt Kyle Butters (Wanganui) 6-2 4-6 7-5.
Women's final: (1) Paige Hourigan(Wanganui) bt (6)Ella Hassall(Waikato) 6-2 6-2