Carol Zhao, a different path

Monday, Jul 9

Canadian Carol Zhao isn’t used to the spotlight and is less known to the media than her compatriots Eugenie Bouchard, Françoise Abanda, and Bianca Andreescu. Yet, she is currently the highest ranked Canadian on the WTA rankings. Amid a strong season, the native of Richmond Hill, Ontario just achieved a career-best ranking of no. 131.

Zhao took a different tennis path than her fellow Canadians. After completing her high school courses, she decided to go the NCAA route despite showing a strong potential in the pro game. In 2013, playing as an amateur, Zhao qualified for the Rogers Cup main draw in Toronto. In 2015, she accomplished the same feat at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford and also won the first WTA main draw match of her career.

Zhao put her dream of becoming a professional tennis player on ice after receiving a scholarship from Stanford University, a prestigious Division I school, where she wore Cardinal colours for three years. Competing as the no. 1 player for her university, she led her team to the NCAA championship, the 18th title in school history. In 2015, she became the first Canadian since 1998 to reach the NCAA Division I singles final and quickly made the transition to the professional ranks in 2016 and has enjoyed steady results since.

Last year, the 23-year-old won her first two pro singles titles on the ITF Circuit in Nanao and Shenzhen. She’s also captured seven doubles crowns including three Challenger titles in Canada: Granby (2013, 2017), Gatineau (2015), Saguenay (2017). Zhao took home a gold medal at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto alongside Gabriela Dabrowski and reached the Rogers Cup doubles quarter-finals at Rogers Cup with Sharon Fichman.

Carol Zhao is undoubtedly one of the rising stars of Canadian tennis. Will we see her in the Montreal main draw for the first time at Rogers Cup from August 3-12 at IGA Stadium?