Tūwharetoa tennis champ laps up ASB Classic opportunity

By Aroha Mane , James Perry

Paige Hourigan has gained entry to the main draw of the ASB Classic for the first time and, after her losing her father last year, the Tūwharetoa champion is hoping that this can be the year she achieves some of her biggest goals. With a field containing Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki and defending champ Julia Gorges, winning the event will be a tough ask.

“I did very well in doubles so I guess that's a positive. I had a few hiccups along the way with some family issues, that kind of event that you don't really prepare yourself for so that was a bit hard. But yeah, finished 2019 pretty strongly and just pretty excited for 2020 really,” Hourigan told Te Ao. 

For the first time, Hourigan will take part in the ASB Classic main draw. While she is not expected to win the title next week, she is hoping it can set her up for a massive year.

“My goals are to be top 300 by June so then hopefully I can be at the Olympics for New Zealand, which will be an incredible experience, and then this time next year be in the qualifiers for the Australian Open.”

She failed to qualify last year but that meant she was able to become a hitting partner for Venus Williams. If all goes well this week, Hourigan could find herself playing against the younger Williams sister, Serena.

“I messaged Venus, she's not coming back this year but she told me that she'll try organise a hit with Serena so fingers crossed that works out.

"I mean it's overwhelming at the same time but also she's another person that you're going to have to go up against. So yeah, I'm just super excited to be here and in this environment again.”

Hourigan grew up playing in the Māori national tennis tournament which was held last week. She says that if she can make a career out of it so can other aspiring Māori players.

“If you love it then keep on going, that's what I've done. If that's your dream then work as hard as you can and obviously enjoy it because this is your job, and you have to do it every single day and you have to love it and just have fun.”

Regardless of the outcome, Hourigan is still our top-ranked player.

Since this interview was conducted, Hourigan has been drawn to face former world number one Caroline Wozniacki in the first round of the event.