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Mehrtens to partner big names in women’s tennis

January 19, 2005

Andrew Mehrtens to partner big names in women’s tennis world

All Black Andrew Mehrtens, once rated one of the country’s most exciting players on the national junior tennis circuit, will play doubles with Martina Navratilova and Monica Seles in their exhibition match in Christchurch next month.

Mehrtens has confirmed he will partner either of the international tennis stars in doubles after their ASB Navratilova Seles Classic exhibition singles at the Westpac Centre on February 3.

Canterbury Tennis Executive Director David Blackwell now faces the daunting task of finding a fourth doubles player who can foot it on court with the “mercurial Mehrts”.

“We’re obviously delighted that Mehrts has agreed to take part in the exhibition. In the past when he partnered former world number ones, Steffi Graf and John McEnroe, he has been right up to the task,” David Blackwell says.

“Mehrts can hit the ball hard, but he’s also very fast on court and magic around the net. We want to keep the doubles even, so the hunt is on to track down a celebrity of his ability.”

Andrew Mehrtens is now coordinating the local and international selection process for his mixed doubles opponent. “I’ll be holding all sorts of trials over the next few weeks with a few of my sporting colleagues who I know are pretty handy with a racquet. Once they’ve gone through my rigorous process, they’ll certainly be ready for the best in the world next month,” he says.

David Blackwell says ticket sales for this month’s exhibition are at about the same level as that last year for the John McEnroe – Pat Cash exhibition.

“However there are still plenty of very good seats available and we are expecting an excellent response from the public over the next two weeks,” he says.

Tickets are available through Ticketek outlets throughout the country. The Christchurch exhibition matches have traditionally proved popular with tennis fans throughout the South Island and lower North Island, David Blackwell says.

“We are again getting quite a bit of interest from tennis supporters in Wellington.”

The Christchurch exhibition follows one in Auckland two days earlier between Navratilova and Seles, who are both playing for their first time ever in New Zealand.

They are both left-handers and former world number ones. Navratilova has won a staggering 58 Grand Slam titles in her career spanning more than 30 years. Her record includes nine Wimbledon singles titles (six consecutive) and the rare achievement of being the only man or woman in the Tennis Open era to win every title in singles, doubles or mixed at every Grand Slam at least once. She won her first Grand Slam title aged 17 and her 58th aged 46.

Seles, 31, who intends holidaying in New Zealand with her mother after the exhibition matches, has won nine Grand Slam singles titles. She is universally popular with crowds who admire both her tenacity and courage.

Her New Zealand exhibition matches mark her return to tennis following recovery from a foot injury which has prevented her competing for the past 18 months.


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