New Zealand number one Pavlina Nola has been awarded a wildcard entry into the ASB BANK Classic scheduled for December 31, 2001 - January 5, 2002.
Tournament Director, Richard Palmer has taken the step of giving the Bulgarian born Nola a wildcard early as the 128th player is the current standout in women's tennis in this country.
"She has been inside the top 100 and has the ability to do well in the tournament. She has beaten numerous top 100 players and deserves a chance to show the crowd in Auckland how good she is," said Palmer.
Now officially playing as a Kiwi Nola started 2001 well winning a round at the ASB BANK Classic by beating Alex Fusai in the first round before losing to eventual finalist, Paola Suarez.
Nola then kept improving her ranking to a career high of 68 in April/May of this year with some solid results including reaching the quarterfinals of Bol.
The 27 year old also reached the quarterfinals of Tokyo before making the final of a US$25,000 event in Australia in November.
The second wildcard into the main draw will be confirmed nearer the date of the tournament and is likely to go to Shelley Stephens New Zealand's second ranked player.
Stephens has had a consistent year improving her ranking from 317 at the end of 2000 to 285th this week. Stephens did peak inside the top 250 during the middle of the year and excelled in doubles.
However a play off similar to the one held last year is still a possibility with Leanne Baker ranked 397, Ilke Gers ranked 386 and Tracey O'Connor close behind all in contention.
There are also four wildcards into qualifying which other New Zealand players Nikki Tippins, and top juniors, Dianne Hollands and Tanja Markovic will be considered.
Seeded players for the main draw of the tournament are:
1 Angeles Montolio (Spain) 23
2 Henrieta Nagyova (Slovakia) 25
3 Anne Kremer (Luxembourg) 33
4 Conchita Martinez (Spain) 35
5 Tatianova Panova (Russia) 40
6 Meilen Tu (USA) 45
7 Amy Frazier (USA) 48
8 Mariana Diaz-Olivia (Argentina) 53