Muamba, Baadi, Draxl, Vagramov, Boulais and Fernandez receive wild cards into the main draw
Tennis Canada announced Tuesday the list of players who will participate in the 2017 edition of the National Bank Canadian Open Junior Championships. Sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the Grade 1 junior tournament will be held from August 27 to September 2 at Parc De La Rochelle in Repentigny.
16-year-olds Carson Branstine (Orange, CA) and Layne Sleeth (Markham, ON) will lead the Canadian contingent in Repentigny, with both players entering the main draw due their respective junior rankings. Branstine, the no. 4 female junior player in the world, has had an impressive 2017 season, capturing two junior Grand Slam doubles title with fellow Canadian Bianca Andreescu, at the Australian Open and French Open. She was also crowned champion in both singles and doubles at the USTA International Spring Championships in California. Branstine, the tournament’s second seed, has also had success on the professional circuit this year, reaching the semi-final in doubles at the Granby National Bank Challenger and the second round in doubles at Rogers Cup presented by National Bank in Toronto. Joining Branstine in the main draw is Layne Sleeth, who was crowned champion of the Grade 2 ITF junior event in Cap d’Ail, France earlier this year. With the win, she was able to break into the Top 100 in the junior rankings for the first time in her young career. Sleeth also reached the quarter-finals at last week’s Under 18 Outdoor Rogers Junior Nationals.
Branstine and Sleeth will be joined by Alexandra Vagramov (Port Moody, BC), Isabelle Boulais (Toronto, ON) and Leylah Annie Fernandez (Laval, QC), who all received wild cards into the main draw. Vagramov is coming to Repentigny on an impressive win streak, which culminated in her being crowned both the singles and doubles champion at the Under 18 Outdoor Rogers Junior Nationals last week. She won the doubles title with compatriot and fellow wild card recipient Isabelle Boulais. 2017 marked the second consecutive year that Boulais took home the doubles title at that tournament. The third wild card for Repentigny was awarded to 14-year-old Leylah Annie Fernandez, who, despite her young age, has already participated in nine professional tournaments on the ITF Women’s Circuit this year, including the recent tournaments in Winnipeg, Gatineau and Granby. Earlier this year, she became the first player born in 2002 to win a main draw match at a $25,000 Challenger event.
In the boy’s draw, Nicaise Muamba (Gatineau, QC), Taha Baadi (Montreal, QC) and Liam Draxl (Newmarket, ON) received wild cards into the main draw. Muamba is coming off a silver medal performance at the recent Canada Summer Games and will be looking to better his first round exit from Repentigny in 2016. Baadi has spent his 2017 season split between junior and professional tournaments, notably reaching the finals at a Grade 2 ITF junior event in Tunisia after going through qualifications to reach the main draw. The third boy’s wild card announced on Tuesday was Draxl, who was crowned doubles champion at two Grade 4 ITF junior tournaments earlier this year. Only three of the six wild cards have been awarded in each draw, with the remainder expected to be announced later in the week.
“There have been a number of great players who have passed through Repentigny during their junior careers, including past champions Nick Kyrgios (2012), Andy Murray (2003) and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (2002),” stated the Tournament Director, Francis Milloy. “Local players have also experienced tremendous success at this tournament, especially on the girl’s side with Bianca Andreescu (2015), Françoise Abanda (2012) and Eugenie Bouchard (2011) having all been crowned champion in recent years. Repentigny has developed into one of the most reputable tournaments on the ITF junior circuit and has become an important building block in the careers of numerous professional athletes.”
On the international front, Repentigny will welcome four players in the Top 10 in both draws. The tournament’s top two seeds in the boy’s draw are Axel Geller of Argentina (no. 6) and Yuta Shimizu of Japan (no. 10). The 18-year-old Geller not only holds two singles titles at Grade 1 ITF junior tournaments already this year, he was also the Junior Wimbledon singles finalist and the doubles champion. Shimizu, who currently holds one singles title at a Grade 1 ITF junior tournament in 2017, will be looking to improve on his quarter-final appearance in Repentigny from last year.
The tournament will also play host to a number of top ranked junior female players, including world no. 3 Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine. Kostyuk reached a career-high junior ranking earlier this year after winning the singles title at the junior Australian Open as well as two Grade 1 ITF junior doubles titles. She also reached the Junior Wimbledon semi-finals in doubles with partner Carson Branstine. The tournament’s third seed in the girl’s draw is Olga Danilovic, singles finalist in Repentigny in 2016.
The National Bank Canadian Open Junior Championships is the only Grade 1 ITF junior tournament in Canada. The tournament welcomes the best players from around the world between the ages of 14 and 18.