By Stephanie Neppl
(April 2, 2013) CHARLESTON, SC – Marina Erakovic is the lone New Zealand tennis player ranked in either the top 100 of the WTA or ATP tours.
The 24-year old Kiwi ended New Zealand’s drought of tournament wins in February this year when she won the Memphis hard court title. She became the first Kiwi with a tournament win on the WTA Tour since 1989, the year after she was born.
“You know, it was a great week for me,” Erakovic said. “It was something that I had on my to do list for quite sometime and I achieved a goal of mine, so I was just very happy. I’ve just got to keep working and maybe try and get some more titles.”
On Tuesday at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, Erakovic took on former top 5 player Daniela Hantuchova on the Althea Gibson Court. Based in rankings it wasn’t an upset, but Hantuchova is a WTA tour veteran whose year end ranking has been in the top 32 every year since 2002. Currently ranked 75, the Slovak broke serve to start the match but Erakovic, ranked 65, played a better tiebreak to take the first set 7-6 (2). The Kiwi got the early break in the second and held on to win 7-6 (2) 6-4.
Erakovic said she thought both players were nervous at the start. “I felt like I managed a good tiebreak that first set to take that first set and then in the second I got an early break and I managed to just maintain that lead. So overall, a good day.”
In 2012, Erakovic advanced to the third round, where she lost to Serena Williams in her first visit to Charleston and she’s happy to be back at the Family Circle Cup.
“I really like Charleston. The first time I played was last year and so I just enjoyed the whole atmosphere,” she said. “The people here are just super, super nice and friendly so they just make you feel right at home.”
Next up for Erakovic is Australia’s Sam Stosur, the Family Circle Cup champion in 2010.
“Sam is one of the best players out there at the moment and actually our games are sort of very similar,” Erakovic said. “I have never played her on the clay so that will be a new one and I’ve just got to do my thing, play my game and stay positive.”
Erakovic will team up with American Jessica Pegula in the doubles draw. The alternate team replaced the injured Anabel Medina Garrigues and her partner Hantuchova after the Spaniard withdrew from both the singles and doubles events due to a right knee injury she sustained at the end of her match yesterday.
Stephanie Neppl is in Charleston covering the Family Circle Cup for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. She has worked as Social Media Manager for Tennis Auckland’s ATP and WTA tournaments. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.