Jones crosses the ditch

NEW Zealand's number two tennis player Sacha Jones has decided to switch nationalities and play for Australia, Tennis New Zealand confirmed today.

Jones, who has Australian-New Zealand dual nationality due to an Australian-born father, has the option of playing for either country. She has decided for the betterment of her career to switch to the Australian programme which has significantly more resources than New Zealand.

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Jones' decision comes into effect in early January after confirmation from the International Tennis Federation that it would accept her transfer.

"The decision has been a very difficult one for me to make," Jones said. "I am very grateful for the support that Tennis NZ has given to my career to date but, if I want to achieve my goals, I believe that being involved in the Australian programme will give me the best opportunity to do it."

Tennis NZ chief executive Steve Johns said he was "obviously disappointed" but supported Jones in wanting to achieve her dream.

"This is a reality of sport, that New Zealand athletes do go overseas to further their careers. We cannot compete against the significant resources of Tennis Australia and we have therefore reluctantly agreed to release Sacha into the Australian tennis programme.

"Sacha has been a dedicated New Zealand tennis player and, while we're disappointed to lose her, we understand the reasons why she is going. We wish her well with her tennis career. She is still a Kiwi and our door is open to her if she decides to move back to New Zealand in the future," Johns said.

Jones will play in January's ASB Classic where she has been awarded a wildcard. Following this tournament, she will travel to Australia where she is in line for a wildcard into the Australian Open.

ASB Classic Tournament Director Richard Palmer said he was aware that Jones was considering a move to Australia at the time the wildcard was announced.

"With Sacha's world ranking of 261 we felt she was our best choice for the second wildcard for the ASB Classic. While she might be heading across the Tasman, this is still her hometown tournament and she'll have plenty of support here."

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