Kiwi No1 and Whanganui tennis ace Paige Hourigan is banking on the massive support from her home country to get her and partner Taylor Townsend through to the final of the ASB Classic women's doubles.
In what amounts to her professional debut since graduating from Georgia Tech in the United States with a business marketing degree, Hourigan and her American partner Townsend first need to dispatch Sweden's Johanna Larsson and Kirsten Flipkens from Belgium in today's semifinal.
Hourigan, the only Kiwi still in New Zealand's biggest women's tennis tournament, has been at Georgia Tech in the United States the past four years and it was there she met up with Townsend.
The 21-year-old from Turakina concedes she gets nervous before big matches and fully realises that this is the biggest match of her burgeoning career.
"Of course I get nervous and especially ahead of such a big match in front of my home crowd, but I am surrounded by people who believe in me and will use that. And I have chosen the best doubles partner possible - Taylor is a brilliant doubles player, one of the best.
"I'm having some quiet time before heading back to Venus William's box tonight. It's very exciting spending time with the likes of Venus," Hourigan said from her Auckland motel when the Chronicle contacted her yesterday.
I am really excited to be finally embarking on my professional career
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Hourigan was ranked 655th in the world in doubles coming into the event, and is set to take a big leap in the rankings. Hourigan will be going out on the tour for the first time this year, so the prize money and doubles ranking points will come in handy.
"Safely through this my next tournament is in Singapore in a few weeks, but I hope to come home briefly and pack a few clothes I'll need there. I am really excited to be finally embarking on my professional career," Hourigan said.