• Thirteen-year-old selected for Tennis Eastern cup defence

Thirteen-year-old selected for Tennis Eastern cup defence

Thirteen-year-old Woodford House student India Apatu will become the youngest player to represent Tennis Eastern in a Christie Cup fixture on Sunday.

"I feel quite privileged," Year 8 player Apatu said as she pondered Tennis Eastern's first defence of the cup, the symbol of Central Districts tennis supremacy, this season at the Greendale club.

Right hander Apatu, who started playing tennis when she was nine, will have the women's No 6 singles role. She will let her more experienced teammates play the doubles and mixed doubles fixtures.

Although Apatu started her tennis career at the Hawke's Bay Lawn club she has played at the Havelock North club for the last 18 months and is coached by former Kiwi No 1 Dan Willman, who will be Eastern's No 3 man on Sunday, and Zac Atkins.

"Both Dan and Zac have been extremely beneficial to the progress I have made," Apatu said.

A Tennis Eastern under-14 rep last summer, Apatu, believes her powerful forehand, high fitness levels and ability to run down shots as her strengths. She enjoys travelling to tournaments throughout New Zealand.

Apatu, who prefers the hard court surface, ranked playing for the fifth placed Waikato- Bays under-14 team at the Labour Weekend national teams tournament in Christchurch as the highlight of her career to date. She won three of her five singles matches.

The big fan of Switzerland's Roger Federer and Japan's Naomi Osaka, Apatu, finished ninth at last summer's under-12 nationals in Auckland.

"My long-term goal is to secure a college tennis scholarship in the United States. During the next couple of years I hope to finish among the top four at the under-16 nationals," Apatu explained.

A keen waterskier and snowskier when she isn't on the tennis court, Apatu, already has her life sorted when her tennis days are over.

"I want to be a businesswoman and I also want to complete a degree in horticulture science," Apatu added.    

Tennis Eastern development officer Sean Davies is expecting a tight contest on Sunday.

"While our men are quite strong I am expecting tough competition from the Manawatu women who are impressive," Davies said.

"This tie has the potential to be decided on the last couple of mixed doubles matches," Davies added.

The Tennis Eastern team for Sunday's fixture which begins at 10am:
Men: Dan Rowe, Rynold Timothy, Dan Willman, Luke Donovan, Hamish Lee, Andy Shand, Jonathan Fall, Craig Giddy.
Women: Olivia Addis, Alex Cave, Jane Wyllie, Sophie Ward, India Apatu, Roisin Dinan, Stacey Margerison, Mel Parnell, Janine Perkinson.