Tennis: Another abject display by NZ men

Daniel King-Turner of New Zealand plays a forehand in his first round match against Jesse Levine...
Daniel King-Turner of New Zealand plays a forehand in his first round match against Jesse Levine of Canada during day two of the Heineken Open at the ASB Tennis Centre in Auckland. Photo by Getty

Another year, another abject display by New Zealand men's tennis on centre court at Stanley Street.

At least this time it was mercifully brief.

Daniel King-Turner will bear the brunt of the dismay at his 2-6 2-6, 56-minute annihilation at the hands of unheralded Canadian qualifier Jesse Levine - the world's 104th ranked tennis player. But the real tragedy is that King-Turner is the best that this country can produce.

It's the sport's administrators who should be in the gun, not poor old, hapless DKT.

At 376 in the world and 28 years old, King-Turner is going nowhere. Having topped out at 217, he's never really been anywhere, or at least his tennis career hasn't.

The man himself has spent a bunch of years tiki-touring around the sport's minor tour outposts.

Last year his destinations included Knoxville, Yokohama, Winnetka (Illinois, USA if you were wondering), Taiwan and Honolulu, among many, many others.

He's been all over the world in search of tennis players he can beat, without finding many.

There was no rage or fury, barely any frustration from King-Turner after he dropped 10 straight games to ensure he handsomely lost a match that could barely be classified as a contest. Wary acceptance would best describe his demeanor. He felt his level of play matched Levine at the start and near the end. The middle was a real problem.

"The difference between me and the top 100 guys is that I can start up there and peak up there but just can't continue over two or three or five sets," King-Turner said.

It has now been 11 years since the last time a Kiwi, Mark Neilsen, beat a foreign player in the main draw of this event. It could easily be another 11 until it happens again.

King-Turner still believes he can do it and that he can crack the top 100 "if I decide to continue".

After yesterday's display, it's doubtful many people still share that belief.

- By Steve Deane of the NZ Herald

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