Top seed entered on whim

You can get a long way on a whim.

For Sky Lovill, that was all the way to New Zealand.

And on another whim, the American entered the Otago Indoor Open.

The 29-year-old tennis coach was in Dunedin a fortnight ago and "got wind of the tournament".

He agreed to link up with Philip Mirfin in the doubles and thought why not enter the singles as well.

Lovill has been ranked as the top seed and, while he was hesitant to talk up his chances, he is the clear favourite.

The tournament gets under way with qualifying at the Edgar Centre today. The finals are scheduled for Sunday.

Lovill’s tennis journey has been lengthy one. He got his start as a 4-year-old and by 6 was playing competitive matches.

Two years later, he was travelling around the United States to play in national tournaments.

He hails from Northern California and was the No1 ranked player in the region in the 12, 14 and 16-year age categories.

"I was really deep into tennis from a very young age," he said.

"But my biggest connection to New Zealand is I played on the [Berkeley] team with the McLachlan brothers, Riki and Ben. They are two of my best mates."

Lovill did a master’s degree in earth science at UC Berkeley. He played on the university’s tennis team with Riki and Ben McLachlan, who come from Queenstown.

Ben, who plays under a Japanese banner, has gone on to have a very successful doubles career.

Lovill had set himself up for a career in academia but decided to see a bit of the world first. New Zealand appealed and he wanted to visit the McLachlans.

"But when I first came to Queenstown I was completely blown away and really quickly the whole South Island stole my heart."

He obtained a work visa in late 2017, did some coaching in Wellington for about two months, but he wanted to return to the South Island. The attraction of the outdoors proved a powerful magnet.

He popped up in Te Anau and has been working as a tennis coach since June 2018.

Lovill will play his first singles match tomorrow morning when the main draw gets under way.

The event has been scaled back due to Covid-19, but it has still attracted a reasonable field of 50 players.

Former Otago No1 Ryan Eggers is the second seed and has a tricky game which could pose a few problems, while Oliver Petri is a player to watch.

In the women’s event, Auckland 17-year-old Sofia Shing has returned for another shot at the title.

Otago champ Ayesha Horley perhaps shapes as her leading rival.


 

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