REACTING to the urging of former world No 1 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Hana Sonton has become the first Aussie since Destanee Aiava to reach the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament quarter-finals.
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The Gold Coast prodigy won three of four round-robin matches, downing opponents from Singapore, Germany and Great Britain.
Her only defeat was to tournament favourite Mio Mushika, of Japan.
Sanchez Vicario, a tournament ambassador, urged Sonton and her rivals to “take advantage of an opportunity I never had at your age.”
“You are privileged to be playing in such a tournament,” the Spaniard said.
Aiava, now 18 and embarking on a professional career, was the most recent Australian to reach the last eight in Paris.
The Victorian swept to title glory, earning a multi-year bursary – and a hit with Steffi Graf.
Sonton will gain a similar reward – both Graf and her grand slam-winning husband Andre Agassi will play a mixed doubles match against the winners – if she emulates Aiava.
Unfortunately for Sonton, her partner on Saturday won’t be Perth’s Zach Viiala.
He failed to qualify from a tough pool.
Sonton was elated after advancing.
“I never dreamt I’d get to play on clay in Paris,” she said.
“Now I get to play on a court under the Eiffel Tower.”
A hard-courter, Sonton has intelligently adapted her game to slow red clay and her composure has impressed many international coaches.
The right-hander last year won Tennis Australia’s Showdown, underlining her potential and steely resolve.
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