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Lulu Sun: From New Zealand beginnings to tennis stardom

Lulu Sun: From New Zealand beginnings to tennis stardom

Sun competed in 14 events in 2021, winning an ITF $25,000 tournament in Portugal and reaching another final in Spain to move her ranking inside the top 300, as well as helping her university team claim the NCAA title, their first since 1995.

At the 2021 NCAA Championships, Sun clinched the programme’s third team title in a winner-take-all match by prevailing over Pepperdine’s Taisiya Pachkaleva to cap off her one season with the Longhorns alongside future WTA Top 50 player Peyton Stearns.

She turned professional in 2022.

Tennis NZ scoops up Sun

Last December recently appointed Tennis New Zealand national coach Chris Bint, aware of Sun’s background, got in touch over social media. The next day Bint had a 45-minute phone call with Sun about her being at the forefront of the New Zealand programme as a singles player, with up to three Olympic cycles ahead of her.

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After that initial contact, Bint and Sun caught up in Auckland during the ASB Classic, taking a walk up Mt Eden.

“At that time we didn’t actually talk too much about switching but more just getting an insight into who she was, her values and what she stands for as a person,” Bind told the Herald.

At the end of a memorable week – where Sun progressed beyond the first round of a WTA tour-level event for only the second time – she was left to percolate on the decision.

After the offer was put in place, TNZ waited for Sun’s decision.

Sun’s love for New Zealand

Sun made her national debut in the Billie Jean King Cup team earlier this year and said the decision was “a heartfelt tribute” to her origins.

“Born on the South Island, my journey took an international turn at a young age when I moved to Switzerland,” she said in a statement. “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.

“New Zealand has always been a place for me to return to, where I recover, recharge and renew my inspiration and motivation to succeed.

“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.’

“Growing up in Switzerland and spending my formative years there has led me to carry love for both countries in my heart. I feel an incredible love for Switzerland and a sincere gratitude for the Swiss tennis community for their support and opportunities.

“Representing New Zealand is more than a professional choice; it is a tribute to my roots, a celebration of my origin, and a commitment to the country that has always been a fundamental part of who I am and who I want to become.”

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WTA career records

Age: 23 (April 14, 2001)

Plays: Left-handed

Singles ranking: 123

Doubles ranking: 220

Prize money (YTD): $170,678

Prize money (career): $313,832

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Career highlights

Broke into Top 200 in 2023 for first time following title run at ITF Brasilia $80K

Played two WTA 125 series main draw matches in 2023

Made breakthrough at Seoul 2022, scoring her first career main draw win (d. Lizette Cabrera ) en route to QF (l. eventual champion Ekaterina Alexandrova)

Fell 1r at Granby 2022 (l. Parry)

Played first career Grand Slam at Wimbledon 2022, falling last round of qualifying

Made WTA main draw debut at Rabat 2022 (l. Rus in 1r)

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Played first WTA event at Bogota 2018 qualifying