New Zealand's Rea Receives Wildcard
New Zealand tennis player Simon Rea has been given a late Christmas present with a main draw wildcard for the 2004 Heineken Open being awarded to the 21 year-old left-hander.
Rea who currently attends the University of Tennessee on a tennis scholarship has an ATP singles entry ranking of 823 at present with his best results in pro tournaments in 2003 when he reached the quarter-finals of two Futures events in the United States.
For Rea the wildcard will be his second into the Vodafone singles main draw. At the 2003 Heineken Open Rea was beaten by former champ Dominik Hrbaty 6-4 6-2. Hrbaty eventually went on to reach the final before losing to Gustavo Kuerten.
"I'm grateful to Auckland Tennis and hopefully I can handle the atmosphere and pressure on centre court better this time around. I've been working hard training on court four to five hours a day since the end of the Residentials," said Rea.
Tournament Director Graham Pearce believes that Rea has a chance to really make an impression at the 2004 Heineken Open. "The main draw wildcard is an opportunity for a player to progress their career. Simon is finishing college in the first half of 2004 in the United States and a place in the Vodafone singles at the 2004 Heineken Open gives him the opportunity to improve his ranking and get his pro career underway," said Graham Pearce.
Four wildcard places for the qualifying have also been announced with experienced Mark Nielsen, national 18's champion GD Jones, Auckland's Adam Thompson and Residentials finalist Dan King-Turner receiving wildcards.
The Heineken Open featuring the Vodafone singles and doubles will be held January 12-17. Qualifying rounds will be held at the ASB BANK Tennis Centre January 10-11.
Top players confirmed for the 2004 Heineken Open include world No. 5 Guillermo Coria of Argentina, No. 12 and former champ Jiri Novak, current champion and No. 15 Gustavo Kuerten, world No. 17 and former champion Sjeng Schalken, 2003 beaten finalist and 2001 champion Slovak, Dominik Hrbaty plus former world No. 4 American, Todd Martin