Sacha Jones to retire after winning NZ champs

DAVID LONG IN ALBANY
Last updated 21:59 23/12/2013
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OVER AND OUT: Sacha Jones has lost in the first round match at the Australian Open, going down 6-3 6-2 to Kristina Pliskova from the Czech Republic.

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Sacha Jones, who plays as an Australian, is the New Zealand tennis champion for 2013 after defeating Kiwi No 2 Dianne Hollands 6-0 4-6 6-1 in the final at Albany Tennis Park.

Two years ago the Auckland-born Jones took up the option to play for Australia and tap into their tennis programme as her father was born on the other side of the Tasman.

Although she plays as an Aussie, she's still eligible to enter in the NZ Championships and for all but one set, in the final, she found it all too easy to win this title for the third time.

Jones completely overpowered her opponent in the first set, not just with her serves and big forehand, but also the precision she was able to get with her shots.

When Hollands finally won a game in the second set, breaking Jones, she allowed herself a half smile at the relief of avoiding the dreaded double bagel (losing 6-0 6-0).

At the time Hollands couldn't have thought this was anything more than just a brief moment of joy for her, but Jones then lost concentration.

Hollands jumped on this and won five of the next six games to take the second set.

However, for the deciding set Jones got her rhythm back and quickly cleaned up, losing just one game.

Jones, 23, is ranked at 287 in the world and this was supposed to be her final match before she embarks on a new career, training to be a teacher.

"I'm stopping playing tennis and going to university next year," Jones said, before explaining why.

"I finished the end of 2012 really well and I won four tournaments in a row, I was (ranked) 150 (in the world) and thought I was in a good position to launch myself into the top 100.

"But then I hurt my wrist and since then it's been non stop injuries. It is one of the most frustrating things, to be injured, rehab, spending the time getting better in matches and then getting another injury."

However, the winner of this tournament is given a wildcard to the qualifying tournament for the Auckland WTA Classic and Jones says she might take that opportunity for a swansong. 

"I might take it up, not with any intention of planning to keep playing," she said,

"But I'm going to go down to the tournament anyway because I'll get to see a lot of my friends play."

Meanwhile, in the men's final Artem Sitak defeated Rubin Statham 6-3 7-6 to be crowned New Zealand champion for the second time in his career, having previously won it in 2010. 

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- Fairfax Media

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