Tennis New Zealand could produce a top-100 player in the next five to 10 years, according to their new high performance director Christophe Lambert.
It's a bold claim - especially given the struggles over the last two decades – but something that the Frenchman isn't shirking from.
"Obviously we have some big hurdles at the moment," Lambert told the Herald. "But we have to have those things to aim for and there is no reason why we can't achieve it. This one is a big one but I know there is potential in New Zealand and I can help to develop that potential."
Lambert was announced on Tuesday as the successor to Simon Rea, who has moved to Australia for family reasons after three years in the role.
• Tennis: Australian prodigy Kent Yamazaki dies after 'tragic' on-court incident
• Rafael Nadal's obsessive nature stretches from the tennis court into the gym
• Tennis: Maria Sharapova retires from tennis at 32
• Tennis: Novak Djokovic makes history with Australian Open final victory over Dominic Thiem
He was the incumbent national coach, and one of 29 applications for the high performance role, with Tennis NZ CEO Julie Paterson saying the 54-year-old was the "standout".
Lambert's background includes time at Tennis Canada where he was the head coach of the Toronto National Junior Centre and the private mentor for US Open champion Bianca Andreescu as a junior in 2016.
Earlier roles include coaching the Chinese Davis Cup team and five years with the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).
New Zealand's geographic isolation and lack of financial resources make it a vastly different proposition to any of those nations, but Lambert is confident there are plenty of transferable ideas.
"Some recipes have been tried around the world, and we can see the success and we will try to reproduce that on our scale," said Lambert. "Canada was the same as New Zealand [at one time]. I've been involved in the middle of it so I know how it works."
Tennis New Zealand appoints a National Performance Coach
"You need a good programme and you need a bit of luck. Five years is really ambitious but within 10 years we should have a consistent group of players who are playing at 300, 400 and 500 in the world and one who can come through."
It's a massive ask, as Marina Erakovic is the only Kiwi to crack the top 100 this century.
Erakovic was our flagbearer for more than 10 years on the WTA tour, reaching a career high of 39, while Sacha Jones briefly broke into the top 200, before her retirement at the age of 24.
Brett Steven, who hung up his racquet in 1999, was the last male to have a two-digit ranking, with an illustrious career where he made No 32 in the world and reached the last eight of the Australian Open (1993).
Mark Nielsen reached No 172 back in 2000 while Rubin Statham has been consistent across almost 15 years, though most of his career has been outside the top 300.
Ajeet Rai (21) and Rhett Purcell (24) are both ranked in the 900s, while youngsters George Stoupe (18) and Macsen Sisam (19) have recently earned their first ATP points. Corban Crowther is the highest placed junior, at 175.
On the female side 23-year-old Paige Hourigan sits at 437, Emily Fanning (24) at 589 and Valentina Ivanov (18) just outside the top 1000. Vivian Yang is the top junior at No 353.
Lambert was reluctant to go into too many details, but said having a "player driven approach" was key, along with maximising the amount of tournaments available to young prospects.
He also sees exposure to clay courts for young local players as vital.
"We don't have clay," said Lambert. "That's the most important step for our country. We need clay. I'm going to advocate a lot in this direction."
The surface has long been seen as crucial for the formation of young talent, with Andy Murray's time in Spain as a junior an oft-cited example.
"Going from clay to hardcourt is very easy," said Lambert. "After a few weeks on the clay, life is nice, but going from hardcourt to clay is very difficult. That's our problem. I'm sure there are some investors ready to put money into tennis and maybe we can drive them in that direction, to set up clay courts so we could do something really good."