New Zealand's most promising player, Jade Lewis, has been awarded a main draw wildcard in to next weeks' ASB Classic.
This will be the first time the 18-year-old will play a main draw event at the highest level as she looks to transition from the ITF Junior circuit to the WTA Tour.
Lewis had previously been awarded a qualifying wildcard off the back of winning the Pascoes New Zealand Championships, however organisers felt the timing was right to give the 18-year-old her first WTA event experience.
"Jade is certainly one of our most exciting prospects. She played very well last year in qualifying and has done everything we could have asked of her since returning to New Zealand from the United States. I am excited to see her play and have two kiwi's in the main draw," said Tournament Director Karl Budge.
She has also caught the eye of the man in charge of high performance for Tennis New Zealand.
"It's obviously an incredibly exciting opportunity for Jade. I'm sure she's appreciative of the support and faith that Karl and the tournament have shown in her by awarding this wildcard. I look forward to seeing Jade grab a hold of the opportunity with both hands and back herself to compete with tenacity and grit against any opponent she meets. It's another exciting step in her career," said NZ Tennis High Performance Director Simon Rea.
Lewis has had prior experience at the ASB Classic playing in qualifying each of the last two years. In 2016, a great performance saw her push American world no. 61 Lauren Davis to three sets in the first round of qualifying.
She is the niece of Chris Lewis who reached the final of Wimbledon in 1983 against John McEnroe. Her father David and uncle Mark also played Davis Cup for New Zealand.