by: Emna Achour
To say that Bianca Andreescu’s win on Saturday in the first round of the qualifying event of Rogers Cup went unnoticed would be an understatement.
Not a single journalist asked to interview the Canadian and only a handful of fans were in the stands on National Bank Court to see her play.
But the victory is no small feat. The 16-year-old, who entered the qualifiers with a wildcard from Rogers Cup organizers, defeated Samantha Crawford of the US, 16th seed and world no. 101 (542 rankings ahead of Andreescu), in two sets of 7-6 (3) and 7-5.
Born in Mississauga, Bianca Andreescu started playing tennis in Romania—her parents’ home country—before returning to Canada to join Tennis Canada’s National Training Centre in Toronto. Today, she is ranked world no. 8 on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Junior Circuit. She rose as high as no.3 on February 1.
But the fact that her successes have not garnered as much attention as those by Eugenie Bouchard, Françoise Abanda or Charlotte Robillard-Millette doesn’t seem to bother her. She reasons that the depth of the emerging talent in Canadian women’s tennis explains why, and that’s just fine with her.
“When I walk onto the court, I only think about playing and nothing else,” she affirmed. “I try to have fun and do my best and it works. I win matches and gain more and more confidence thanks to all the support I get from Tennis Canada.”
In fact, Tennis Canada named Andreescu 2015 Junior Player of the Year after she ended the season by taking the crown at the Orange Bowl in Florida—a season she had started as world no.332 on the Junior Circuit.
Sylvain Bruneau, Tennis Canada coach and Fed Cup captain, cited Andreescu’s performance at the 2015 Gatineau National Bank Challenger last August—her very first professional tournament—to illustrate her impressive rise in a short amount of time.
“She is solid, even when it gets tough,” he said in an interview in January from Melbourne. “I saw her last summer at her first Challenger in Gatineau. She made it to the final by beating players who were ranked much higher and who had much more experience. I see the respect she has for others and she has even more respect for herself. And that’s perfect!”
Meeting her idol
On Thursday, at the event to launch Mini Rogers Cup on the Esplanade du Parc olympique, Andreescu got to meet her idol: world no.5 Simona Halep of Romania. They had both been invited to hit with the young participants.
“It was incredible! I’m so happy to have had the chance to meet her,” said Andreescu. “Simona is so nice. I hope I get to hit with her again this week!”
The Canadian took her hero by surprise when she started speaking to her in Romanian. “She was happy to know that my career was going well since I’m also from Romania. […] I asked her a few questions and she gave me good advice. I asked how the junior and professional tours are different. She was very generous and humble,” she added.
If all goes according to plan, in a few years, Andreescu could be the one giving advice to the next rising stars.