Zahli Kelly.
Zahli Kelly. Ethan Smith/SNSW

Kelly's rise continues with WSL wildcard nod

IT'S onward and upward for Tweed surfing prodigy Zahli Kelly.

The teen surfing sensation's fledging career was already on an upward trajectory, but is set to soar even higher after Kelly was named the 2017 World Surf League wildcard for the Port Stephens NSW Pro Women's Qualifying Series.

The 6000-rated QS event will be a huge opportunity for the 15-year-old to rub shoulders with some of the world's best female surfers and cap off a huge 2017, which has included two WSL Australia/Oceania Junior Qualifying Series event wins, a regional championship, and a spot in the 2017 World Junior Championships.

Although qualifying points are not especially important at this stage in her career, Kelly said she was excited to compete alongside some of her idols.

"I'm super stoked and honoured to have received the wildcard spot from WSL,” Kelly said.

"It gives me an opportunity to step up and push my competitive surfing to another level. I surfed at Port Stephens earlier in the year and won the event, so I'm excited to get back there and I am definitely confident.”

Having already achieved her competitive goals for 2017 and then some, Kelly is hoping to soak up her experience surfing in a QS6000 event and use the lessons learned when she heads to Kiama in January for her first World Junior Championships.

"What I will gain most from this experience will be feeling more comfortable surfing against the best in the world,” Kelly said.

"I think the more I get the opportunity to have heats against the top women the more it will feel just like any other heat. When you feel comfortable you always surf your best.”

The event begins tomorrow at Birubi Beach, Port Stephens, and runs through to Sunday.

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