NEW ZEALAND’S best tennis player Marina Erakovic won her first ever WTA singles title in Memphis at the weekend.
The 24-year-old Croatian-born Kiwi beat German Sabine Lisicki in the final of the US National Indoor Championships.
It was the first title won by a New Zealand woman since Belinda Cordwell in Singapore in 1989.
“I think it means quite a bit for New Zealand,” Erakovic told the official WTA website.
“We’re a small place, we’ve got about four million people, and tennis isn’t the most popular sport.
“But whenever I’m somewhere else in the world and someone asks me where I’m from, and I say New Zealand, they always say they love New Zealand. And there are always a lot of Kiwis supporting me around the world. So this is great.
“I’ve just talked to home – everyone’s super excited. My dad was watching online – I had to tell him congratulations too, because he did so much when I was a kid. This really was teamwork.”
The will will see her rise into the 60s in the world rankings, having been at position 71.
She also pocked $48,000 for the victory, which came when Lisicki was forced to withdraw after the first set.
Erakovic was leading 6-1.
She has won seven WTA doubles titles since turning professional in 2006 and has won 12 singles and six doubles titles in ITF events, the new rung down.
She said she was now getting the reward for lots of hard work and perseverance.
“If paying your dues is putting all the hours in on the tennis court, getting injured and going back at it again, then I’ve definitely paid my dues,” she said.
“I just like playing tennis. It’s not always fun and it’s not always great, and it doesn’t always work out the way you want it to, but when you win tight matches or win titles, it’s all worthwhile.”