Big day can't faze Hourigan

By Jared Smith,

The tennis bag is packed in one corner, the evening gown hanging in the other.

And thank goodness mum Tracy's got it all under control for Wanganui tennis ace Paige Hourigan, as she gears up for a massive 24 hours which starts as part of the Wanganui team trying to wrest the coveted Christie Cup from Taranaki today.

After that it's a dash to the plane to reach Auckland's TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre for the 2012 Maori Sports Awards.

But like any teenager it's all about one thing at a time, or whatever, Hourigan saying yesterday that the magnitude of the awards had not really hit her yet.

"It's pretty cool to be nominated. I haven't been thinking about it too much. I just feel part of it."

As Ngati Tuwharetoa, Hourigan's nomination for the Te Tamahine-A-Papatuanuku - Junior Maori Sportswoman category has her competing with New Zealand sevens representative Tyla Nathan-Wong and waka ama exponent Kataraina Brown, both Auckland.

When the Chronicle caught up with Hourigan she was about to check her gown for the night.

She will find herself in elite company among 22 Olympians, three Paralympians, 10 world champions and four world-champion teams at the centre.

It may seem a lot to take in but Hourigan has not lost that youthful knack of taking it easy.

She didn't even know the date for defending her national under-18 title in the 2012 Slazenger New Zealand Junior Championships next month it's December 13-18, but do not worry, Tracy Hourigan's on the case.

"My mum's the one that does it mostly, she just tells me where and when to go. She's pretty organised."

Likewise, Hourigan only knows for certain today she has three games singles, doubles and mixed doubles as Wanganui hunt a piece of history.

Since it was introduced in 1926, Wanganui has not held the cup come the season's end since 1963.

Wanganui contests the cup with Taranaki, Manawatu, Wairarapa and previously Hawkes Bay.

This time, having professionals Victor Romero and Emma Hayman as well as New Zealand's top two junior players in Hourigan and Kyle Butters, the visitors have a real shot in New Plymouth.

Hourigan has been on a hot streak since winning back-to-back ITF (International Tennis Federation) titles in late October. This season she also beat New Zealand No3 senior Leela Beattie in singles.

The New Zealand residential championships (formerly the national champs) follow the under-18 tournament.

And although she admits she hasn't checked lately, Hourigan is now ranked 200 in world juniors and 27 at under-15 level.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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