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NZ Teenagers Ready To Attack Classic Qualifying

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Dec 31 NZPA - Three young New Zealanders will have their work cut out as they aim for the ASB Classic tennis tournament in Auckland beginning on Monday.

The trio of teenage wildcards have limited international experience to call on as they try to win through qualifying over the next two days

to the main draw.

Katherine Westbury, 17, is the highest ranked at around 600. Westbury recently won the New Zealand Residential title ahead of another wildcard, 16-year-old Leela Beattie. The third New Zealander is 15-year-old Emily Fanning.

Westbury takes on Auckland veteran Jill Craybas, who has played in the tournament 12 times, and has a ranking of 98th for this year's event.

Beattie (Canterbury) meets Italian Corinna Dentoni who is ranked 149 while Australia-based Fanning, faces Briton Katie O'Brien, ranked 181.

Top seed in qualifying is 91st-ranked Italian Alberta Brianti, who plays Luxembourg's Mandy Minella in the first match of the day.

Former two-time Wimbledon semifinalist Mirjana Lucic is second seed at 96 and is up against Argentine Maria Irigoyen.

Other notable players include former world No 14 Elena Bovina of Russia, who was a quarterfinalist at the US Open in 2002, playing Japan's Aiko Nakamura.

Another former Grand Slam quarter-finalist is hard-hitting German Sabine Lisicki, who will be up against Canadian Stephanie Dubois.

Fellow German Anna-Lena Groenefeld, ranked 166, was a quarter-finalist at Roland Garros in 2006 and will play Czech Vladmira Uhlirova in the first round of qualifying.

Meanwhile Indian star Sania Mirza takes on Swiss player Stefanie Voegele and the winner of the tournament in 2000, Anne Kremer from Luxembourg, will play for her 11th time in Auckland against Spaniard Silvia Soler Espinosa.

Qualifying will be held Saturday and Sunday, with the final round commencing prior to the main draw matches on Monday. The tournament runs January 3-8.


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