Tennis: Leading Kiwis to battle it out in Wellington

Rubin Statham hits a back hand shot during day two of the 2015 Heineken Open. Photo / Getty Images
Rubin Statham hits a back hand shot during day two of the 2015 Heineken Open. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand's top two ranked singles players will make the Minter Ellison Ruud Watts Wellington Tennis Open in just over a week - arguably the strongest for a number of years.

As well as number one, Finn Tearney and number two Rubin Statham there are some significant other pro competitors and a couple of standouts in the women's draw as well.

A real effort to create a professional environment at the Renouf Centre for the tournament, especially the final, has seen the retaining and strengthening of sponsors, courtside seating, a spectator prize of a new car and the courts spruced up for a real atmosphere for the finals to be held from 11am, indoors on March 13.

The early rounds of the tournament start Friday March 11 while total tournament prize money is $9,000.

The men's top seeds will be local player Tearney, ranked at 389 in the world, with Statham, ranked 416, as the second seed. Tearney won the title in 2013/14 and 2014/15. He beat fellow Davis Cup player Artem Sitak in straight sets last year.

Tearney and Statham are both in Seoul, Korea this weekend for the Davis Cup tie against South Korea. It is Tearnery's first time in the team, while Statham, if he takes the court will equal the most appearances for a Kiwi in Davis Cup history alongside Wellington tennis legend Onny Parun who played in 25 Davis Cup ties.

Making the tournament even more interesting are Alex Klintcharov from North Harbour who has ATP ranking points while there is also Canterbury's national 18's champion Connor Heap, talented Hawkes Bay player Rob Reynolds and Rhett Purcell who was a semifinalist at the NZ tennis champs in Auckland in December and has previously played for Britain at junior Wimbledon.

The women's singles has two big-name players in NZ tennis champs winner and national junior champion, Rosie Cheng from North Harbour, while Leela Beattie will be wanting to defend her crown.

Beattie who has been playing Regional One interclub for Paraparaumu Beach Tennis Club will have to be on her game if she clashes with Cheng. The tall teenager from North Harbour was a 6-3 6-3 winner over Beattie when they last met in the semis at the NZ Champs.

A player to watch for in the draw is Tamara Anderson, 15 who won the national 16's championships and plays her tennis for Titahi Bay

Beattie and Amelia Harris will be a seeded pair in the doubles probably ahead of Cheng and Canterbury's Michal Matson.

- NZ Herald

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