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In the trans-Tasman rivalry between Australia and New Zealand, our Kiwi cousins can claim victory in quite a few things. 

Rugby, the America’s Cup, and not being inhabited by venomous snakes spring to mind. 

But on the tennis court, they certainly can’t match it with Australia. 

New Zealand hasn’t had a singles Grand Slam winner since 1910 and can only claim Davis Cup titles from when they teamed up with us as Australasia around the same time. 

In recent decades there have been flashes of brilliance through players like Brett Steven and Marina Erkaovic. 

Steven was an Australian Open quarter-finalist and reached a career-high of no.32 in the 90s. While in more recent years, Marina was a title holder and climbed to no.39 in the world. 

And what about Michael Venus and Erin Routliffe I hear some of you say? 

They are indeed both premier doubles players with two Grand Slam titles between them. 

However, a nation’s tennis standing must include their singles stock and the Kiwis haven’t had a player in the Top 100 for almost a decade. 

Can anyone save our Tasman cousins from the tennis singles wilderness?

Enter Lulu Sun. 

Lulu Sun changes allegiance to New Zealand

Just this week, Lulu Sun confirmed that she would change allegiance from Switzerland to New Zealand. 

The 22-year-old was born in New Zealand but moved to Switzerland as a young child. 

As a junior, she had represented both nations but had been tied to Switzerland in her adult career. 

In a statement announcing her decision, she explained what brought on the change. 

“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,” she said. 

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

But is Lulu Sun any good? 

Sun is ranked 155 in the world, just off her career best of 151 achieved in February this year. 

As a junior, she reached no.13 in the world and was a Grand Slam doubles finalist at the Australian Open. 

Following her junior career she played and studied at the University of Texas and turned professional on the senior tour in 2022. 

She had a fantastic start to this year by winning four matches straight at the WTA Auckland tournament to reach the second round as a qualifier

This run helped make her decision to become a Kiwi, saying: 

“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’.”

She backed up the tournament by qualifying for the Australian Open for her maiden Grand Slam appearance.

Sun then took out her sixth career ITF title by winning Roehampton defeating Heather Watson in the final and also made the second round of Dubai with a retirement win over Paula Badosa. 

This form has seen her climb almost 70 places in the rankings since the start of the year. 

She is still young and is proving herself on the court with increasingly strong results. 

The future looks bright for Lulu and now New Zealand.

Reaction from Tennis New Zealand

Before Sun came on board both New Zealand's no.1 singles players were outside the Top 500. 

Tennis NZ are clearly happy with the decision, with CEO Julie Paterson telling Stuff: 

“Lulu, alongside Erin [Routliffe], 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.”

Will this mean New Zealand will break a century-old drought of a singles slam champion? 


However, Lulu Sun seems on course to become a tour and Top 100 regular. 

It’s just what tennis in New Zealand needs to complement their world-leading results on the doubles court. 

So even though Australia will still dominate the sport in the region, it’s nice to have some healthy competition. 


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