For Paige Hourigan, dreams died hard at the ASB Classic today.
The New Zealander, playing alongside American Taylor Townsend, had a golden opportunity to win a WTA doubles title, but couldn't nail it when it mattered.
Who knows when she will have another chance again?
After a brilliant run through the field this week, the wildcard combination fell at the last hurdle, losing to Eugenie Bouchard and Sofia Kenin 6-1 1-6 10-7.
After having all the momentum after the first set – when they steamrolled through their opponents in just 18 minutes – everything changed in the second set, before they were edged in the super tiebreaker.
"It's hard to process that you had such a great opportunity and you didn't quite come through on this stage and this type of tennis," said Hourigan.
For her part Townsend, who had been outstanding throughout the week, was also quite philosophical.
"Overall I am pretty pleased with our performance," said Townsend. "We came out playing amazing…we didn't miss a ball to be honest. But things happen, things come down and they rose their level and we had to adjust."
For their part, Bouchard and Kenin, who only play a handful of doubles tournaments each year and had never played together, were stunned as they reflected on their success.
"We had no expectations at the start of this week," said Kenin. "We probably thought we would lose round one and just entered doubles for some extra match play."
Hopefully in the future Hourigan will look back on the past seven days as a breakthrough week. Despite being dumped out in the first round of singles qualifying by compatriot Valentina Ivanov, Hourigan went to another level in the doubles against some top opposition, though she endured a nervy performance in the final.
"It was a really great week for me," said Hourigan. "Practising with Venus [Williams] and being in her box really helped me. She gave me a few tips at the start of the week that I really tried to focus on and bring into my game. [And] having Taylor next to me, who is a really top player. It was really cool to have such guidance this week and I am going to take this into my year."
The 21-year-old was aiming to become the second Kiwi woman to win the ASB Classic doubles title, following Julie Richardson in 1987, after Marina Erakovic (2011) and Leanne Baker (2005) both missed out on the decider this century.
The final was a strange match. Bouchard and Kenin had trained in an extended session earlier in the afternoon, but started like they had left all their energy on court. The Canadian-American duo were listless from the beginning while Hourigan and Townsend were like energizer bunnies.
They took their initiative from the start, breaking Bouchard in her first service game and never looked back. Townsend dominated at the net, with clever angles and punchy volleys, while Hourigan belied her inexperience with composed play, especially on some of the big points and served with authority.
But Bouchard and Kenin found their game in the second set, while the levels of Townsend, and in particular Hourigan, dropped markedly.
The young Kiwi saved three set points at 1-5, but couldn't save a fourth as Bouchard and Kenin tied up the match.
The tiebreak was a tight affair. Neither team could gain an advantage until the latter stages, when a couple of errors from Hourigan gave the North American duo a match point at 9-7.
After a tense rally, Townsend netted a cross court backhand to end the dreams of Hourigan, and Kiwi tennis fans.