Rebecca Dellaway has risen quickly through the tennis ranks after taking up the sport as a 9-year-old.
Dellaway's first outing was the Junior Teams Event, held in Invercargill. The local youngster was out of her depth and struggled to make an impression but wasn't deterred by the steep learning curve.
"I got smashed there, I was a bit out of my comfort zone but I enjoyed it," she said. "I like just being out on the court and competing against anyone and having a go."
Since her tough introduction to tournament tennis, Dellaway has developed her skills by training five days a week, one of those days with resident North Otago coach Steve Driers.
"She was pretty raw when she started, I don't think she'd had many one-on-one lessons," he said.
"She's forged ahead in her age group. She played four or five times at fourth or fifth position but, in the nationals in April, she'll be pretty high up.
"She's got a very supportive family, they take her to competitions, but she has had to want it herself and she does. In the end, it's down to her and she wants it."
The 14-year-old took the Under-14 Otago Junior Spring Tennis Open this year and finished second in the Under-14 Mid Canterbury Junior Spring Tennis Open but is now looking ahead to the individual nationals in January, where she is aiming to take a top-10 spot before fighting for the No1 position of the Southern Regions for the national teams event in April.
Despite her talent, Dellaway has plans to swap the tennis court for US law courts in the future, hoping to be awarded a college scholarship through tennis and study law in that country.
The rising star cites her father, Kevin, as the key figure in her success in the game. "My dad has been my biggest supporting role by always hitting with me whenever and coaching me from a young age, along with my family."