Corban Crowther has wanted to be a professional tennis player competing for major titles at Wimbledon and Roland-Garros for as long as he can remember.

In the last few months, he has taken giant strides to reaching those lofty heights.

Crowther, 14, a Year 9 student at Tauranga Boys' College, was selected at number 1 to represent New Zealand in Bangkok at the World Junior Teams Asia/Oceania qualifying competition in March. Playing in nearly 40-degree temperatures, against some of the best juniors in world tennis, was an invaluable experience.

"It was good to play against the top number ones from the top countries so some of the best in the world I guess. Of course, I would like to captain the Davis Cup team when I am older. It was a good experience," Crowther said.

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"We got ninth as a team, which wasn't the best result. We could have got top eight, but there were a lot of strong teams."

Three months of intensive tournament play followed on the clay courts of Europe, competing against Europe's top junior players on the Tennis Europe Junior Tour.

Tauranga tennis player Corban Crowther won a major breakthrough tournament in Spain. Photo/John Borren.
Tauranga tennis player Corban Crowther won a major breakthrough tournament in Spain. Photo/John Borren.

Crowther played tournaments in the Netherlands, Germany and Spain. He made the final of a grade 3 tournament in Amsterdam, the quarter-finals on two occasions at grade 1 tournaments in Germany, and he won an open-graded money tournament in the Netherlands.

Then he entered a grade 2 tournament in Benidorm, Spain where he was seeded eighth. In undoubtedly the performance of his career, Crowther defeated three Spanish players and a Briton to make the final against the top seed from Spain.

The early momentum went the way of the Spaniard, but Crowther fought back to beat the local in front of his home fans.

The career-defining victory saw his European junior ranking go from 228 to 121.

"You get a lot of confidence from winning a highly graded tournament in Europe," he said. "You know you can beat some of the top players. I felt I was playing quite well. I was competing well and had some very hard matches where I was down or lost the first set.

"I thought I had really tough mental ability to get up and win."

The biggest learning Crowther took from all that tournament play was how the top European players never give up.

"Near the end of the trip, I was competing a lot better. It is just a whole different game over on the clay and a whole different environment. The way they train and everything, it is just so much more intense."

For the second year in succession Corban was named as one of 10 Tennis New Zealand targeted athletes. This programme has been hugely beneficial and enabled him to tap into the Tennis NZ High-Performance coaches and the added benefit of fitness programmes and monitoring by their specialist trainer.

"I have had great support from my coach Luis Luna and my club Tauranga Lawn Tennis, Wilson Tennis, Avenues Physio-Fitness and WBOP Tennis who have given very generous support," Crowther added.

His next goal is to captain the New Zealand boys' 14-and-under team in Melbourne at the Australian national age-group championships in December.