Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: in Cloud Cuckoo Land
Shelley Stephens gets WC
Stephens Gets Main Draw
31 December 2003
New Zealand tennis No. 1 Shelley Stephens has been awarded a wildcard into the main draw EziBuy singles at the 2004 ASB Classic starting January 5.
Stephens, 24 who has a current WTA singles ranking of in singles 370 had some solid results in Europe throughout 2003 beating former top 50 player Lilia Osterloh in the first round of US$25,000 at Caserta, Italy. She also made the quarters of the US$25,000 event at Bendigo, Australia.
At the 2003 tournament Stephens was beaten by seed Laura Granville in the first round.
Stephens joins Eden Marama as the other Kiwi wildcard for the tournament.
"Shelley will be delighted to get the main draw wildcard. She is the current New Zealand No. 1 and I'm sure she wishes to make a big impact in 2004 and take her ranking and her game to a new high," says ASB tournament director, Richard Palmer.
Rising star Marina Erakovic, 15 was consulted about a wildcard for the ASB Classic but after speaking with the teenager, her family and coaches it was decided that she would remain in the United States and Mexico playing in the top junior events.
Erakovic has a current ITF junior ranking (under 18's) of 43 in singles and 10 in doubles after her recent title win at the Orange Bowl doubles and a finalist finish in singles and doubles at a big event in Yucatan, Mexico last week.
"It's disappointing Marina is not playing but we will see a lot more of her in the future. The decision to stay overseas and complete a series of top and very strong junior events has been made in association with Marina, her family and coaching staff. She is playing against the top juniors in the world, players with whom she will move into the senior WTA rankings with. No doubt we'll see her at the ASB Classic in the future. At this stage of her development she is looking at the bigger picture rather than one event," said Palmer.
The four singles qualifying wildcards are Waikato's Leanne Baker who recently won the New Zealand Residentials, Aucklander Ilke Gers, Paris based Paula Marama, who at 19 is the elder sister of Eden and Otago's Dianne Hollands who is currently on a tennis scholarship at the University of Arizona.
In doubles the main draw wild card has been awarded to Eden and Paula Marama who have won five ITF US$10,000 doubles titles together in 2003.
Paula has a doubles ranking of 359 while Eden is 383 both started 2003 with no ranking.
The doubles qualifying wildcard has been granted to Ilke Gers and the partner of her choice.
Gers doubles ranking has improved dramatically to 174 after winning one US$25,000 title, making the final of two others. She also reached the semis of the doubles at the Tier V WTA event at Pattaya.
The 2004 ASB Classic featuring the EziBuy singles and doubles will be held January 5-10 and will be preceded by two days of a qualifying on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th at the ASB BANK Tennis Centre.