Merewether surfer Philippa Anderson is determined to prove herself in elite company when she competes in the Tweed Coast Pro, possibly from Sunday.
The 28-year-old will take on a field of the nation's top eight female surfers, including seven-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore, two-time No.1 Tyler Wright and Sally Fitzgibbons, as well as a local wildcard.
As one of Australia's top qualifying series surfers from last year, Anderson was invited into the contest, which is part of the World Surf League's Countdown Series.
"It's super cool to see my hard work last year is paying off with an opportunity to surf against the top eight girls in Australia," Anderson said.
The events are designed to provide competitions leading into a potential return of the WSL tours, which have been shut down since March because of COVID-19.
Anderson, who has been campaigning for more than a decade to make the championship tour, faces CT young guns Isabella Nichols and Macy Callaghan in round one. However, she was guaranteed at least one more heat, where she hoped to meet a headline act.
"I would have liked to draw those girls first up to try to put it to them," she said. "This [round one heat] feels like another QS heat because I've surfed against them in so many heats, so I'm super excited.
"They've all had this time to work on things as well so I'm sure everyone will be fired up and ready to roll. I've got nothing to lose so I'm so excited for this opportunity.
"It's going to be really good to go up against that talent and hopefully I can get through a couple of heats and show that I deserve to be there because I've been trying for a while and I haven't given up yet because I feel my surfing deserves to be there. Hopefully I can just have a lot of fun."
The Tweed Coast Pro is part of the Australian Grand Slam of Surfing, which is set to continue with the Gold Coast Pro at South Stradbroke Island.
Anderson, though, is unsure if she will make the trip to the next event given she will need to isolate for 14 days before crossing the Queensland border then serve another two weeks in quarantine on her return.
"I'm just about to launch my own business, so I'm hoping to compete at the second one, but I'm not sure. I'm just going to give everything at this first event," she said.
She plans to start the Philippa Anderson Surf School in the next month.
"My passion is for surfing and helping young girls achieve their goals," she said.
"I've been working at the Surfest Surf School the past six years and that's been amazing.
"The journey has started a lot earlier than anticipated but I guess with COVID, that's been a huge positive. My dad and I have been working hard the past three months with a lot of people supporting us. Now I'm going to be able to share some knowledge with the kids coming through."
Like many, Anderson has been hit financially by COVID-19, but she was focused on the positives.
"A lot of us surfers are struggling because we are so used to having a schedule - we're home for a week, we train, we surf, we work and we're on the next flight," she said. "We have a whole year mapped out so it was really weird to just not have a schedule, but there were massive positives out of it.
"I had time to try different surfboards, different routines with warm-ups and training. After the first two months, I started to switch from being all over the shop to dialing down a few things, because we've never really had time to. We are always on the go."
Merewether's CT trio of Ryan Callinan, Julian Wilson and Morgan Cibilic are in the men's event. However, Cibilic is in doubt because of a perforated eardrum.
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