After more than 13 hours in the air, six members of an
American college tennis team will have just minutes to warm
up for their first matches in the Wanaka Open today.
The team of 16 from the University of California, Berkeley,
has had travel problems getting from San Francisco to New
The team will step off a plane at Queenstown airport at
4.30pm today and six of its members will step on to the court
for qualifying matches in Wanaka at 6pm.
Team member Ricki McLachlan is already in Queenstown - his
home town - and says the players are not fazed by the less
than ideal preparation for today's event.
''It's not ideal, but they're into it. They'll enjoy it.''
McLachlan and brother Ben are students at Berkeley and their
college team-mates will be in New Zealand for a week on a
pre-season trip to play tennis and also enjoy some of
Queenstown's adventure tourism activities.
Ben McLachlan is Berkeley's top player and the two brothers
won the New Zealand men's doubles championship in Auckland
The brothers have been on scholarships at Berkeley - Ricki
for three and a-half years, Ben for two and a-half years.
Ricki told the Otago Daily Times yesterday he was due to
graduate with a degree in globalisation in May and had not
yet made a firm decision on his future.
''Tennis is my passion and I want to stay involved whether it
is coaching or playing to some degree.''
He said there were professional coaching opportunities open
to him although he believed he would ''struggle'' as a player
on the professional circuit.
The brothers are still coached by Queenstown professional Lan
Bale, who coached at Berkeley for two years before moving to
Queenstown in 2002. Ricki McLachlan said Bale had just been
named New Zealand Davis Cup team captain.