Jade Lewis returns to College after a shaky start of pro career

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Jade Lewis returns to College after a shaky start of pro career

The 19-year-old Jade Lewis has been one of the most prominent talents that have come from New Zealand in the last 10 years or so, and she had a solid junior career, entering the Top 60 in 2016. Jade comes from a sporting family and her sister Carolina plays tennis at West Virginia University.

Jade took her steps as well, winning the New Zealand Tennis Championships in December 2016 and heading towards the USA (she already played a lot of tournaments in America when she was younger) to join the Louisiana State University women's team. She had a notable freshman season, winning 17 out of 24 singles matches including 11 over ranked opponents to earn numerous awards.

Jade was named 2017 ITA Rookie of the Year, ITA Player to Watch, Louisiana Player of the Year, SEC Co-Freshman of the Year, First Team All-SEC, All-SEC Freshman Team and ITA Singles All-American. In January last year, Lewis had a chance to make her WTA debut at home in Auckland, after just turning 18, and she played a great set against Venus Williams before losing 7-6 6-2.

This result and a very solid Collegiate season have convinced Jade to make a big step and turn pro in June, hoping to build upon her success and make her name in the professional tennis. The problem is, she was not ready for that at the age of 18, winning just three matches in the lower ITF events by the end of the season, unable to break inside the Top 1000 or earn enough to cover the travel costs and other things that follow every tennis player. Jade had a chance to play in Auckland again this January, losing in the opening round to Viktoria Kuzmova but she at least won back-to-back doubles titles in Sharm El Sheikh with Erin Routliffe.

Lewis played for her country against Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Lebanon in the Fed Cup in February but she has decided to go back to the USA and continue her studies at the University of Louisiana, not satisfied with the way her pro career has developed in the last 10 months.

Her Major is General Business and Jade is now focused on her studies, with no plans to attend the pro events any time soon.

One of the things that is most important to us from a Tennis New Zealand perspective is that Jade’s happy and we’ve always had a philosophy of happiness prioritized over success.

So given her youth and the stage of her career that’s she’s at, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see her return to the game at a later point in time. It’s uncanny when you look around the tennis world how often players will return from a break that is intended to be a permanent break and it often becomes a temporary break so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jade return to the courts in due course, and hope that’s the case.Tennis NZ High Performance Manager Simon Rea Simon Rea said.

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