Wanganui tennis ace Paige Hourigan is courting the big time after winning back-to-back ITF (International Tennis Federation) titles late last month.
The 15-year-old won the singles and doubles ITF titles in Auckland before taking out the singles in Hamilton a week later.
Hourigan was poised to feature in the doubles as well in Hamilton, but pulled out because the finals clashed with her Caro Bowl interclub competition in Auckland. This season Hourigan has also beaten New Zealand No3 senior Leela Beattie in singles.
At the Auckland ITF Indoor Championships at the Scarbro Tennis Centre last month, Hourigan defeated Danielle Feneridis (Northern) 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1 in the final after beating Claudia Williams (Auckland) in her semifinal. Top seed Feneridis had a straight sets win over New Caledonia's Assya Trimari in her semifinal.
The latest victories bring her junior ITF tally to six as she prepares to defend the under-18 singles title she claimed last season.
Tennis Wanganui development officer Wilton Atkins said the New Zealand Residential Championships (formerly the national champs) came hard on the heels of the U18 competition early next month.
"Paige now has a chance of becoming the youngest to win a New Zealand Residential Championship - she is in incredible form," Atkins said.
Meanwhile, proud father Phil Hourigan said he didn't want to get hopes up too high, but with an U18 title defence and solid performances at the Residential, his daughter would have an outside chance of claiming a wildcard entry into the ASB Classic and/or being named in the New Zealand women's Federation Cup team, the pinnacle for any Kiwi tennis player.
Mother Tracy Hourigan said her daughter was heavily focused on gaining a wildcard, but probably more so on making the Federation Cup team.
"When she sets her mind to something she usually gets it - she's just so determined and really really wants to make the Federation Cup team so she can hit the ball around with Marina Erakovic," she said.
Hourigan is now ranked 200 in world juniors and 27 in the 15 and under rankings.