The last time former New Zealand Junior and Māori Tennis Champion Shaun Tamai swung a racket at the Māori Tennis tournament was in 1999. Seventeen years on he took to the court again for the first time at the Waikato Tennis Centre in Hamilton with his two daughters.
Shaun Tamai says "Unbelievable actually to be playing at the 90th Māori Tennis Nationals and to be here with my daughter Zeeah Rona 10-years-old is my inspiration to getting myself back into the sport and what a privilege to be playing here with her”.
At 17-years-old Tamai won the Māori Tennis Tournament in 1998. This morning Tamai showcased his skills defeating last year's winner Te Kani Williams of Ngai Tuhoe. But Tamai says his return is more about his daughters.
Eldest daughter, 10-year old Zeeah Rona Waerea-Tamai competed while younger sister, 7-year-old Vienna Waerea-Tamai had a go in the Mokopuna "Hot Shots" event.
Zeeah Rona Waerea-Tamai says "He (Dad- Shaun) has many skills that he has taught me”
This year Māori Tennis celebrates its 90th year. Wife Jasmine Waerea says it was a timely for the entire family to attend the special occasion.
Jasmine Waerea says “I believe it’s an honour for my daughters to play alongside their father, I encourage the both of them to do their best on court and give it their all, enjoy playing with their cousins and have fun learning at the same time”.
Tamai who is of Te Arawa and Ngai Te Rangi has a wealth of experience he'd like to teach his daughters and local kids at their local Tennis club, Rotorua tennis in the Bay of Plenty region.
Shaun Tamai says "I really don’t have much expectation, I tell them to follow their dreams and to do whatever they want to inspire to be and I will follow them one hundred and ten percent”.
Tamai's most notable achievements were representing New Zealand on the world Junior Circuit playing against former no.1 from Australia, Lleyton Hewitt and current no.1 Roger Federer.
Shaun Tamai says “It was a pleasure actually playing against (Roger Federer) and not really expecting that he would become the no. 1 for the senior men’s and also Hewitt a year and half later. If I can be amongst them it’s a big stepping stone for myself to peruse that dream as well”.
Both his daughters are huge fans of Serena and Venus Williams.
Vienna Waerea-Tamai says “I’m excited to see Serena Williams and Venus Williams and watch the both of them play in Auckland”.
The girls will get a chance to see their idols up close when they attend next week's ASB Classic tournament in Auckland