Tennis star competing in Sunday Shootout

Young tennis star Valentina Ivanov will be at the Sunday Shootout at the Mount Maunganui Tennis Courts on February 4. Supplied photo.

Locals will get a rare chance this Sunday to watch a New Zealand tennis player who is in the top 100 in the world for under 18s, compete in a local tournament.

Valentina Ivanov is only 16 and just competed in her first junior Grand Slam Australian Open last month.

In a tournament prior to the Slam, Valentina nearly beat the 11th ranked player in the world – and this has given her the confidence to aim for a top 50 ranking. Currently ranked 98, she is aiming to play in other Slams later this year to reach this goal.

Flying in from Australia this weekend, where she lives, she will arrive in New Zealand to compete in the Sunday Shootout, in a move the tournament director says is a coup. She will then play in Auckland next week.

Sunday Shootout is a unisex, one set tennis competition that has 16 single players compete over a three-hour period. Into its fifth month, the tournament has seen world-ranked players enter, as well as rising junior players and ex-pros.

Tournament creator Jason Helms says in the last 25 years New Zealand has only qualified for the World Junior Teams (u/14) or the junior Davis cup/Fed cup finals eight times. Valentina has led four of those eight New Zealand teams, and holds five New Zealand national titles and three Australian national titles.

“If you loved the Australian Open, you need to come to Sunday Shootout, because some of the players in our competition are real possibilities of one day making it at that level,” says Jason.

“Valentina has what it takes to go to the top and that she went out of her way to play in our tournament is a testament to the format we have created and a testament to her love of New Zealand – that she is making such an effort to come to the provinces.”

Valentina says she has always loved representing New Zealand and many of her best tennis memories are from competing alongside her New Zealand team mates.

“My long-term goal is to play pro tennis and represent New Zealand in the Fed Cup, and hopefully at the Olympics someday.”

The Sunday Shootout is on this Sunday at the Mount Maunganui Tennis Courts. Entry is free, with people encouraged to arrive at 3pm for a 3.30pm start.

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