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New Zealand's Lulu Sun celebrates winning against Britain's Emma Raducanu during their women's singles fourth round tennis match of the 2024 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Wellington: When qualifier Lulu Sun wept after reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, tears were also being shed on the other side of the world at her tennis club in a small rural town in New Zealand.

Sun, ranked 123rd in the world, cried openly on centre court following her stunning 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 fourth-round win over Emma Raducanu, the 2021 US Open champion, after becoming the first New Zealand woman to reach the last eight at Wimbledon.

Sun, 23, was born in the remote town of Te Anau, near the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island.

A small party broke out in the early hours of Monday morning at the local tennis club as her latest Wimbledon triumph unfolded.

Greg Sheppard, president of Te Anau Tennis Club, said he and around 20 members had been glued to the clubhouse television to witness Sun’s victory.

“It was nerve-racking and very exciting,” Sheppard told AFP.

“When she started crying, we had a few tears in the clubhouse too. It was quite emotional.

“We’re fully pumped for her. It’s unbelievable, something we have never had before. It’ll be great to see Lulu when she is next home.”

Sun is the daughter of a Chinese mother and Croatian father.

After living in Te Anau — a town she describes as having “more sheep and deer than people” — Sun moved with her mother to Shanghai before settling in Switzerland.

Until this year, she was playing under the Swiss flag having played college tennis in the United States.

Sheppard said there was immense pride in seeing Sun play so well, so far away.

“I reckon if you dug a hole, you’d probably come out in Wimbledon. We are right on the other side,” he joked.

The draughtsman said he struggled to get any work done on Monday.

“I got home around 7am and charged my phone up, I’d run out of battery twice. My phone has been ringing red hot,” said Sheppard, who anticipates another sleep-interrupted night when Sun plays Croatia’s Donna Vekic in the last eight on Tuesday.

Sun will be bidding to become only the second New Zealand woman to reach the last four at a Grand Slam, after Belinda Cordwell at the 1989 Australian Open.

“Hopefully it will be closer to the start of the night or at the other end, where we can have a cooked breakfast to go with our next match watching,” said Sheppard, who remembers Sun as a 13-year-old winning games against the club’s top men.

Her most recent appearance at the club, which has around 120 members, was an exhibition in 2018 and they will invite Sun to a tournament in December.

“We’ll be hoping she comes along, shows us a trophy or a medal or two,” said Sheppard.

“I don’t know if we’ll get a hit of tennis out of her, it would be quite cool if we did.”