Jones elects to play for Australia
Tennis Australia has welcomed New Zealand No.2 Sacha Jones's switch of allegiance to Australia...
Tennis Australia has welcomed New Zealand No.2 Sacha Jones’s switch of allegiance to Australia in a bid to further her career.
The move will come into effect next week after the International Tennis Federation accepted the 21-year-old’s transfer and will allow the Aucklander to take advantage of TA’s greater resources.
“The decision has been a very difficult one for me to make,” Jones said on Wednesday.
“I’m very grateful for the support that Tennis New Zealand has given to my career to date but, if I want to achieve my goals, I believe that being involved in the Australian program will give me the best opportunity to do it.”
With a New Zealand mother and an Australian father, Jones has dual nationality and had the option of playing for either country.
The world No.274 has already represented New Zealand in the Fed Cup, meaning she may have to wait a while before being allowed to wear the green and gold in the women’s teams event.
With the cut-off for the London Olympics set to be around the 70-mark, Jones is unlikely to make the Australian team for next year’s Games either.
But although she is also only expected to receive minimum financial support from TA until rising up the ranks, Jones will come under greater consideration for wildcard invitations to Australian tournaments.
“Ultimately, this is the decision of the athlete,” said TA’s Head of Professional Tennis, Todd Woodbridge.
“Half of Sacha’s family is Australian and she’s always spent a lot of time here.
“She approached us this year about joining the Australian pathway and we welcome her to our programs.”
Despite her low ranking, Jones achieved a career-high 157 in April 2010 after embarking on a 24-match winning streak in late 2009 in low-level tour events.
Her impressive run included victories over Australia’s former top-10 star Alicia Molik in three successive tournaments.
Tennis New Zealand chief executive Steve Johns said there was obvious disappointment in Jones’ impending departure, but it was a reality of sport and that the organisation supported her wish to further her career.
He said Tennis NZ couldn’t compete with TA’s resources and had reluctantly agreed to release Jones.
“She is still a Kiwi and our door is open to her if she decides to move back to New Zealand in the future.”
Jones will play in next month’s Auckland Classic as a wildcard.
New Zealand’s top-ranked player is world No.61 Marina Erakovic.