Tennis: Swiss ace Lulu Sun switches allegiance to New Zealand after ASB Classic appearance

Lulu Sun in action at the ASB Classic.
Lulu Sun in action at the ASB Classic. Photo credit: Photosport

Swiss tennis ace Lulu Sun has confirmed a switch of international allegiance to her birth country of New Zealand.

Sun, 22, was born at Te Anau, where her grandparents still live, but grew up in Switzerland and has played under the Swiss flag for most of her career.

Her first appearance at Auckland's ASB Classic this year rekindled her links to the host nation, convincing her to change her loyalty.

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

"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'.

"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."

Sun emerged through qualifying at Auckland, then beat American McCartney Kessler in the first round of the main draw, before falling to Frenchwoman Varvara Gracheva in the second. She also combined with Kiwi Jade Otway to reach the doubles quarter-finals.

Subsequently, Sun qualified for the Australian Open main draw, before losing to Italian Elisabetta Cociaretto in the first round.

In February, she won an ITF Tennis Europe event at Roehampton, beating Brit Heather Watson in the final.

Currently a career-high 151st in the world, Sun immediately becomes our highest-ranked singles exponent - women or men - but her doubles performances may prove the most influential impact on the New Zealand game.

Lulu Sun between games at the ASB Classic.
Lulu Sun between games at the ASB Classic. Photo credit: Photosport

This month, she combined with Japanese Moyuka Uchijima to win an ITF doubles event in the Slovak Republic and if she can get her ranking high enough - it's currently 409 - Sun looms as a possible partner for US Open champion Erin Routliffe at the Paris Olympics.

Routliffe has followed a similar career path to Sun, born in Auckland, before moving to Canada, then switching her allegiance back to New Zealand in 2017. 

"We are delighted to welcome Lulu to the New Zealand team," said Tennis NZ chief executive Julie Paterson. "It was fantastic to see Kiwi tennis fans support her so well at the ASB Classic and there is no doubt this helped motivate her decision.

"Lulu, alongside Erin, will be leaders for women's tennis in New Zealand for years to come, and will help inspire and guide the next generation of talent coming through.

"We're incredibly excited for what the next few years will bring."