The next few weeks will be crucial for Wanganui tennis ace Emma Hayman as she strives for loftier goals next year.
The 24-year-old has had a "wicked" seven day period finishing second in the Auckland championships and the West End Cup before her Royal Oak club team took top honours in the Caro Bowl in the city of sails.
The Caro Bowl is the most prestigious interclub championship in the country and after making the finals 15 years in a row, Hayman's Royal Oak team won the coveted prize for the first time last week.
Earlier this year Hayman had a breakthrough win on the WTA tennis tour, winning the doubles at a US$10,000 futures, the BMW AHG Cup in Horb, Germany.
It was a significant milestone for Hayman, who after a successful college career and year working as a coach in America, was unsure whether to try her luck in professional events. But the leap of faith into the European Circuit has turned out to be a gratifying move, on and off the court.
After representing New Zealand in the juniors, Hayman took her talents to the United States on a college tennis scholarship.
Hayman earned success almost immediately at the University of New Mexico, where she was voted into the All-Conference doubles first team for the Mountain West Conference and earned the UNM Scholar Athlete award in 2008 and 2009, the MWC Scholar Athlete award for her freshman year as well as MWC Academic All-Conference and ITA Scholar Athlete.
Back in New Zealand exactly two months Hayman has stamped her mark at top level and is now setting her sights on a good result at the New Zealand Championships on Friday next week to further her on-court career.
When the Chronicle caught up with Hayman yesterday she was on a brief break from a fitness, speed and strength workshop in Auckland hosted by the New Zealand Davis Cup and Fed Cup selectors.
"I'm really enjoying my tennis at the moment. I've been working on my fitness for the last wee while now and have improved significantly with competition over the last few weeks," she said.
"It was really satisfying to get the results at the Auckland champs, the West End Cup and them win the Caro Bowl. The Royal Oak team has made the final 15 times in a row and to finally win was awesome - it's been a wicked seven days."
Hayman met fellow Wanganui ace Paige Hourigan in the semis of the Auckland champs and the West End Cup winning both to make the finals against Emily Fanning. Unfortunately, Fanning took both finals.
Hayman was forced to draw on all her experience to beat Hourigan who is nine years her junior. In the Auckland semifinal Hayman beat Hourigan 6-3 7-5 and then was forced into a tie breaker in the second set of the West End Cup finally taking the match 7-6(3).
"I hadn't seen much of Paige playing and have never played her before because I was overseas, but I was just happy to be able to keep up with her and win - she has a big future in this game," Hayman said.
"My aim now is to get a good result at the nationals next week. I have been speaking to the Fed Cup selector and coach and there's an outside chance of playing for New Zealand - that would be awesome playing for your country. The Fed Cup is on in Kazakhstan in February and then an Australasian tournament held in conjunction with the Australian open. It's a longshot but it would be great to make those events," Hayman said.