New Zealand Fed Cup Tennis Team Confirmed
The New Zealand Fed Cup tennis team has been confirmed with a couple of new faces to the side as well as a new captain and a relatively new country to travel to as well.
Erin Routliffe joins the side for the first time along with Paige Hourigan from Wanganui and Auckland’s Jo Carswell, while Tennis NZ high performance manager Simon Rea will be the captain.
New Zealand will aim to be finish in top position out of 13 nations and win promotion out of Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Group 2 by competing at Dushanbe, Tajikistan, July 17-23, 2017. The format features three groups of three nations and one group of four. New Zealand have a pool against Indonesia and Sri Lanka. The top team from each group then proceeds to playoffs until a winning nation is found.
Routliffe was only recently confirmed eligible to play for New Zealand by the ITF (International Tennis Federation). The tall 22-year-old was born in Auckland and lived in the city until she was four however she has resided in Canada for the rest of her life and played for the Canadian junior Fed Cup team.
She has just finished studying at the University of Alabama (known for its football team) completing a degree in PR and journalism and says she is more than happy to represent the nation where she was born.
“I was definitely very happy when I received the email confirming it. I knew I wanted to do it after being here (Auckland) at Christmas. The ITF asked me for a statement for my allegiance to NZ and my future plans, I guess it was to see if i was legit. They are cracking down on switching countries,” says Routliffe who made the semifinals of the NZ Tennis Champs prior to Christmas.
Currently she has a WTA singles ranking of 633 after playing infrequent pro events in between her university studies and considers becoming a certified Kiwi an opportunity to really go for it on the professional tennis tour.
“This is the start of my pro career. I played a few tournaments in the summer. I’m training with Simon Rea for a month here in Auckland. I didn’t know where Tajikistan was, but I googled it, so now I know. I don’t know anyone we’re playing against yet. I don’t really have any goals for myself yet, either, I try not to focus on the numbers.”
The other team members have varying careers at present. Carswell is ranked 834 in the world and is now fully playing on the pro circuit while 20-year-old Hourigan is at Georgia Tech University in the United States.
“I’m really excited that Erin, Paige and Jo have all put their hands up to play for their country. There’s a little bit of the unknown. Only one team will come out of the groups and go up out of the 13,” explained Rea.
“It’s great to have Erin make this transition a reality, a lot of work has gone on behind the scenes. She has some weapons from what I’ve seen in practice with her. She has some firepower at her disposal. We’ll go to Tajikistan optimistic.”
It will be the first time New Zealand has fielded a team in Fed Cup since 2014.