Waitaki Girls' High School year 12 pupil Rebecca Dellaway
(16). Photo supplied.
Competitiveness - it shows in whatever Waitaki Girls'
High School pupil Rebecca Dellaway does.
A do-or-die attitude has resulted in the 16-year-old going
from strength to strength on the Otago tennis circuit, all
while balancing schoolwork and other sporting commitments.
The left-hander's biggest break in tennis to date was winning
the Otago Open in March, at just 15.
She beat Jessie Stevenson in the women's final 6-1, 2-6, 6-3.
Tennis is a family affair for Dellaway, who started playing
aged 10, hitting with parents Kevin and Jo, and older brother
''My whole family plays, so I just got dragged along to the
courts,'' she said.
She was 12 before she entered her first tournament, but
proved to be a natural, and it was not long before she
started beating the boys in North Otago.
A big influence on her tennis was Janos Manyai, a
highly-ranked Hungarian player with whom she trained during
the 2012-13 season.
In the winter, she is also a force to be reckoned with in the
midcourt for the Waitaki Girls' High School senior A netball
team, as well as proving herself in cross-country, touch and
athletics, but tennis remains her major focus.
After school, she can be found most nights hitting with her
father at her local courts in Papakaio.
''We try and get down there as quick as we can and we'll go
until dark when we can't see the ball,'' she said.
Dellaway trains with Steve Dries once or twice a month, but
much of her guidance comes from her father.
Her long-term goal is to secure a scholarship to play college
tennis in the United States.
Depending on where that could take her, she would like to
play in Auckland's premier league.
She entered her first ITF tournaments this year and gained
A broken wrist could have put her out of action for up to six
weeks over summer, but arm in cast, Dellaway continued to
play interclub in North Otago using her right hand.
While not at full strength after the injury, she still made
it to the New Zealand junior championships, drawing 14th seed
Diana Deyeva in the first round.
Dellaway fought hard, but lost to the Aucklander in three
sets 6-1, 1-6, 7-5.
She went on to prove herself in the consolation round,
winning two of her three matches.
Being based in North Otago could be tough, but she said it
was all about making the most of her opportunities.
''It's good that we can play the men, but it's sometimes hard
not playing girls my own age,'' she said.
''There's a lot of travelling involved and the grass courts
are quite hard to play on.''
For Dellaway, the attraction of tennis is the pressure.
''Team sports are good, but with tennis, you know why you're
losing and it's all on you to turn it around. I just enjoy
it,'' she said.
Name: Rebecca Dellaway (16).
School: Waitaki Girls' High School
Achievements: 2014 Otago Open winner, ranked No 1 in
North Otago, Southern under-16 representative.