SAGUENAY, October 12, 2017 (Press Release)
The players’ list for the twelfth edition of the Saguenay National Bank Challenger was unveiled on Wednesday during a press conference at the Saguenay Indoor Tennis Club. Sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the tournament offers $60,000 USD in prize money, which represents an increase of $10,000 compared to last year, and will be held from October 23 to 29, 2017.
Making her second career appearance in Saguenay is last year’s finalist, 17-year-old Bianca Andreescu (Mississauga, QC). She will be looking to continue on her impressive 2017 season, which saw her win two singles titles on the ITF professional circuit, qualify for her first Grand Slam main draw at Wimbledon and reach the doubles final at the National Bank Cup in Quebec City. In July, Andreescu also became the youngest Canadian player in 29 years to win a main draw match on the WTA tour in Washington, where she reached the quarter-finals. This impressive run earned her the WTA Breakthrough of the Month honours. Although she began the year ranked just inside the Top 300, Andreescu has been working her way up and hopes to continue her ascent in Saguenay.
Carol Zhao (Richmond Hill, ON) and Katherine Sebov (Toronto, ON) will join their compatriot Andreescu in the main draw. Zhao, world no. 233, made the decision to turn pro last year after enjoying a successful NCAA career at Stanford University, where she posted an impressive record of 76 victories and only 16 losses. Since the start of 2017, she won her first professional singles title in Japan and has been crowned doubles champion three times, including a title she won right here in Quebec at the Granby Challenger. As for the 18-year-old Sebov, she is exclusively playing on the professional tour despite her young age. Earlier this year, she was the finalist of the Granby Challenger, where she notably beat her compatriot Bianca Andreescu in the second round.
Two tournament wild cards were also announced on Wednesday, with Canadians Charlotte Robillard-Millette (Blainville, QC) and Leylah Annie Fernandez (Laval, QC) receiving direct entry into the main draw. The remaining two wild cards will be revealed at a later date.
“The level of talent that we have coming to our tournament this year is very strong and our Canadian players are high on that list. There will be no shortage of local talent in Saguenay, with three Canadians directly into the main draw and four more who will be awarded wild cards,” stated Tournament Director Francis Milloy. “This tournament has an impressive array of past champions and the players this year are eager to add their names to that list.”
On the international front, two players in the main draw are currently ranked inside the Top 200, including world no. 93 Risa Ozaki of Japan. Ozaki, who will be playing in her first tournament in the province of Quebec, will be the tournament’s top seed. The young player made her mark on the tennis scene earlier this year when she reached the fourth round at the Miami Open, which propelled her to a career-high ranking of world no. 70. Also in the main draw is the 2015 Saguenay finalist Amra Sadikovic of Switzerland, who will be making her fifth appearance at the tournament. Another name that may be familiar to the fans in Saguenay is Jovana Jaksic of Slovakia, who won the singles title in 2015 after finishing runner-up the year before. Although her ranking has dropped in the past few years, she is determined to have a strong performance in Saguenay this year.
The Saguenay National Bank Challenger is the final ITF sanctioned tournament held in Quebec in 2017. The tournament was preceded by the National Bank Challenger tournaments in Drummondville, Gatineau and Granby earlier this year.