A promising Kiwi tennis hopeful has died suddenly in the United States.

Carolina Lewis - the 23-year-old niece of former New Zealand tennis pro and Wimbledon finalist Chris Lewis - died unexpectedly last week during a trip to Washington DC.

Chris described Carolina's death as "one of life's unthinkable and cruellest moments".

"Carolina, may your beautiful soul Rest In Peace forever, and may your wonderful and loving family find some peace on this earth now that you have left us," Chris said.

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"Carolina, we all love you. Thank you for the special times we've shared, the wonderful and precious memories you've given us, and for the love we all have in our hearts for you — a love that will hold true and strong for the rest of our lives. You will always be with us."

Carolina's younger sister Jade, also a former professional tennis player, said Carolina was an "avid traveller" and came from a "strong Italian and Kiwi background".

"Carolina graduated this past May from Kansas State University where she played tennis and excelled in academics. Carolina had dreams of being a sports journalist and her near goals were to return to Europe and complete her masters. Carolina recently worked the US Open and her dream was to always work in New York City," Jade said.

"Carolina was loved by so many and made an impact in everyone's life. She was an exceptional daughter, sister, and friend.

"She was the light to everyone's day, and there was never a moment without smiles and laughter when we were with her. Everyone who knew her in her short 23 years of life will always cherish the memories we made with her.

"As we prepare to say our final goodbyes, we appreciate any assistance, prayers, and compassion. All of the funds raised will be going towards having a beautiful memorial for such a beautiful soul."

Jade has set up a Go Fund me page to help the family.

The Lewis family are tennis royalty in New Zealand - Chris was a Wimbledon finalist in 1983, losing to John McEnroe.

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Carolina's father David Lewis was also an accomplished player and a former Fed Cup captain.

Carolina moved to the United States' Hilton Head with her family in her teens. David, Carolina's mother Rosaria and younger sister Jade were organising a dual memorial in both the US and Auckland.

Carolina Lewis was herself a promising tennis player.
Carolina Lewis was herself a promising tennis player.

"If you could offer any support in this most difficult of times - whether it be a kind message to Rosaria, David and Jade, a prayer, or the smallest of donations - it would be greatly appreciated," Chris Lewis said.

Before moving to the US Carolina and Jade "spent an idyllic childhood in New Zealand growing up with my own children in Auckland", Chris said.

"They had fun together, shared birthdays together, they even started playing tennis together."

Carolina Lewis died in the US.
Carolina Lewis died in the US.