Less than a week.

That's all we had to wait for a Whanganui athlete to produce a breakout performance in 2019 as Paige Hourigan added to her name to the list of those who have come from the Whanganui grassroots and gone on to foot it with the best in their chosen sport.

New Zealand's highest-ranked tennis player kicked off her first year as a fulltime athlete at the ASB Classic in Auckland last week and exceeded expectations on her way to the doubles final alongside American Taylor Townsend.

But arguably even more valuable (and headline grabbing) for the 21-year-old is the court time she shared with former world No 1 and global superstar Venus Williams.


The practice session and even the social media banter the pair engaged in after is experience which will serve the Turakina-born Hourigan well as she embarks on her professional career.

She is currently ranked 543rd in the world but there are hopes she will soon be well inside the top 100.

Hourigan is by no means the finished product and, if all goes to plan, her debut performance at New Zealand's premier tennis tournament will be eclipsed so many more times throughout her career that it will barely be remembered.

But like cricketer Jess Watkin's 77 not out on international debut last year, this was the moment the rest of the world, including one of the world's greatest and most recognisable athletes of a generation, paused to take notice of what those Whanganui sporting circles have recognised for a long time.

From the courts at Bassett St and Whanganui's Christie Cup team to the world's biggest arenas, the Chronicle and our readers will follow Hourigan's fledgling career with interest.

Hourigan's start to the year suggests the conveyor belt on Whanganui's sporting production line is running at a good clip and that the city will continue to produce world-class talent.

Who's next? We probably won't have to wait long to find out.