Merewether surfer Philippa Anderson will be up against a big wave specialist, the 2013 NSW Open winner and a former CT competitor when she first hits the water at the Port Stephens Pro.
Anderson has been presented with a tough fourth-round challenge to begin her campaign on Friday with Felicity Palmateer, Stephanie Single and Claire Bevilacqua her respective opponents.
The 25-year-old and Bevilacqua were already drawn in heat two but Palmateer and Single progressed following performances on Thursday’s opening day of competition in clean two-to-four-foot surf at standby venue One Mile Beach.
Anderson must go deep into the season-ending World Surf League qualifying series 6000-point event in order to improve on her current overall ranking of 12th and make the WSL championship tour for the first time.
Elimination before the weekend would all-but end her hopes of cracking the big time in 2018.
By the start of round four Anderson will be one of 48 surfers remaining in the Port Stephens Pro with upcoming opponent and 34-year-old experienced campaigner Bevilacqua narrowly behind her at 14th in the QS rankings.
Anderson said she has “learned a lot” from Bevilacqua over time, most recently last week travelling together to the White Buffalo Women's Pro QS3000 in Japan.
Thursday’s action at the Port Stephens Pro saw Palmateer (12.80) hold off 2015 Surfest champion Ellie Brooks (11.07) in the second heat of round three less than a week after contesting a Big Wave World Tour event in Hawaii.
Anderson’s last challenger Single (10.20), a state winner four years ago, was second to Portugal’s Teresa Bonvalot (11.94) in the third round.
Competition resumes on Friday with the six leftover heats from round three before top-10 CT surfers like Johanne Defay and Sage Erickson, including a showdown with Corlette 15-year-old Elle Clayton-Brown, enter proceedings. Original site Buribi Beach will be used depending on conditions.
Newcastle’s Madison Poole was eliminated in the first round on Thursday.