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ASB Classic Star Lulu Sun Confirms Switch From Switzerland To New Zealand

New Zealand tennis has a player on the verge of cracking into the top 150, with Lulu Sun confirming she has switched national allegiances from Switzerland to the country of her birth.

The 22-year-old from Te Anau, who is ranked 151 in the world left New Zealand as a small child and grew up in Switzerland.

Although she has always cherished her connection to New Zealand, with her grandparents still living in the small South Island town, and briefly representing the country of her birth as a junior to play at Wimbledon in 2018, it seemed likely she would continue to represent Switzerland on the world stage.

However, after a whirlwind week at this year’s ASB Classic, where she came through qualifying to make it to the second round of the main draw, she was able to experience the warmth there was towards her from the New Zealand public.

During this period she had talks with Tennis NZ officials about potentially representing New Zealand and those conversations continued afterwards, to the point where she has now agreed to play with the Kiwi flag next to her name.

The International Tennis Federation has signed off her swap and Sun will be a key figure in the New Zealand Billie Jean King Cup team for the Asia/Oceania Group I event in Changsha, China, April 8-13.

There is also the potential for Sun to partner with Erin Routliffe in the doubles at the Paris Olympics in July.

“After deep reflection, it is with great pride that I announce my commitment to represent New Zealand, my birth country, on the international stage at the upcoming Billie Jean King Cup,” Sun said in a statement.

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"This decision is a truly pivotal moment in my career and a heartfelt tribute to my origin.

“Born on the South Island, my journey took an international turn at a young age when I moved to Switzerland.

“Throughout the years, my deep bond with New Zealand has remained, and many of my favourite memories have involved spending time amidst the natural wonders of New Zealand with my extended family.

“New Zealand has always been a place for me to return to, where I recover, recharge and renew my inspiration and motivation to succeed.

“Participating in the Auckland Open this past January was a transformative experience. The overwhelming support and feeling of being embraced by an entire country strengthened my deep connection to New Zealand and my sense of ‘being home.’

“Growing up in Switzerland and spending my formative years there has led me to carry love for both countries in my heart.

“I feel an incredible love for Switzerland and a sincere gratitude for the Swiss tennis community for their support and opportunities.

“Representing New Zealand is more than a professional choice; it is a tribute to my roots, a celebration of my origin, and a commitment to the country that has always been a fundamental part of who I am and who I want to become.

Sun backed up her run at the Classic, by winning through qualifying at the Australian Open and took the title last month at an ITF tournament in Roehampton, England, where she defeated Heather Watson in the final.

She has already climbed 63 places in the world rankings this year and a few more strong weeks could see her automatically make it into the main draw at the upcoming French Open and Wimbledon grand slams.

She immediately becomes New Zealand’s highest-ranked singles player, surpassing Monique Barry at 650, while the top men’s singles player is Rubin Statham at 557.

Tennis NZ CEO, Julie Paterson said it was great news for the sport in this country to have Sun on board.

“We are delighted to welcome Lulu to the New Zealand team,” Paterson said.

“It was fantastic to see Kiwi tennis fans support her so well at the ASB Classic and there is no doubt this helped motivate her decision.

“Lulu, alongside Erin, will be leaders for women’s tennis in New Zealand for years to come and help inspire and guide the next generation of talent coming through.

“We’re incredibly excited for what the next few years will bring.” Said Tennis NZ Chief Executive Julie Paterson.

Former top 40 player and Tennis NZ board member, Marina Erakovic echoed Paterson’s sentiments.

“I am very excited to have Lulu play for New Zealand,” Erakovic said.

“She is a young player that has a game with a lot of potential, she has a good team and setup already which has seen her nearly break that top 150 mark.

“Lulu will be a great addition to the Billie Jean King Cup team and I am excited to see what the future brings for her under the New Zealand flag.”

© Scoop Media

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