Whanganui tennis ace Paige Hourigan will play the biggest match of her career on Sunday, having booked a place in the ASB Classic doubles final.
The 21-year-old from Turakina and partner, American Taylor Townsend, upset the number 2 seeds, Sweden's Johanna Larsson and Kirsten Flipkens from Belgium, in Saturday's semifinal.
Hourigan, New Zealand's No1 women's player, has already had a week to remember at the Auckland event, her professional tennis debut after graduating from Georgia Tech in the United States with a business marketing degree.
As well as a successful run in the tournament, Hourigan has had the chance to practice with US tennis legend and former world No1 Venus Williams.
Hourigan and Townsend thrilled a large crowd at Stanley Street to secure their place in the showpiece final with a 6-3 7-5 in 78 minutes.
Hourigan and Townsend, who had never played together at a tournament before this week, were good value for the win against highly rated opponents, and had the edge from the start.
Townsend was the best player on court — with her touch at the net and powerful ground strokes off either wing — and Hourigan proved a capable ally and did well in the pressure moments.
Hourigan is the first Kiwi in the final of a WTA doubles event since August 2014, when Marina Erakovic reached the decider in New Haven. Erakovic also reached the Classic final in 2011.
Hourigan and Townsend were dominant in the first set. They made the perfect start with an early break to go out to a 3-0 lead. They maintained their advantage to wrap up the first set, never giving their opponents a look at a break.
The second set was a tighter affair, but the Kiwi-American duo always looked more likely.
They grabbed the vital break on Larsson's serve at 5-5, then Townsend served out the match, with a Hourigan overhead smash providing a fitting finale.
In Sunday's final, the will face Canadian Eugenie Bouchard and American Sofia Kenin.
Before the semifinal, Hourigan paid tribute to her partner -- "I have chosen the best doubles partner possible - Taylor is brilliant, one of the best."
And she relaxed before Saturday's showdown, chilling out in Venus Williams' courtside box.
Hourigan was ranked 655th in the world in doubles coming into the event, and is set to take a big leap in the rankings.
She will be going out on the professional tour for the first time this year and her next tournament is in Singapore in a few weeks.
"I hope to come home briefly and pack a few clothes -- I'm really excited to be finally embarking on my professional career."