New Zealand’s Shelley Kitchen is making her first appearance at an Australian Open and has been seeded number one for the women’s event ahead of the host country's defending champion Kasey Brown.
Amelia Pittock, who won the South Australian Open on Sunday, is third seed, with Elise Ng of Hong Kong rounding out the top four.
Kitchen, winner of the North Shore Open in New Zealand last month, is pleased with her form heading into the Open. She said her goal was to break into the top 10 by the end of the year and the increased ranking points on offer at the Australian Open convinced her to head to Clare this month.
“I’ve done well so far this year – I’ve made the quarter-finals in the bigger tournaments, so yeah, the points (at the Australian Open) are a factor,” she said.
Kitchen’s partner is Australian number two Anthony Ricketts, so she knows many of the Australian players well.
“When we’re in Brisbane I play with the girls a lot there, and also in New York when they’re based in New York with (AIS coach) Rodney Martin,” she said.
“I played with Amelia Pittock a few times there and Lisa Camilleri, and also with Kasey so I guess we know each other really well.”
Kitchen’s only recent loss in New Zealand was in the final of the Central Open, where she was beaten in straight games by Brown.
But Pittock, Lisa Camilleri and reigning Australian junior champion Peta Hughes also head into the Open with recent tournament victories under their belts.
Women's 1st round draw:
 Shelley Kitchen (NZL) v Qualifier
 Donna Urquhart (AUS) v Kimberley Bessell (AUS)
 Amelia Pittock (AUS) v Joelle King (NZL)
 Sachiko Shinta (JPN) v Kirsty Groves (AUS)
 Lisa Camilleri (AUS) v Jackie Laurenson (NZL)
 Elise Ng (HKG) v Kerry Wickett (NZL)
 Peta Hughes (AUS) v Qualifier
 Kasey Brown (AUS) v Melody Francis (AUS)
Issued on behalf of: PSA/WISPA
For further information: Howard Harding
Tel: (44) 1737-243333 or (mobile) (44) 7773-325130
WSQ 3954 Email: HowHard@aol.com 4 July 2007
photo Getty Images