Toronto, October 29, 2015 – Canadians Heidi El Tabakh and Carol Zhao both knocked out higher-ranked opponents in the second round of the Tevlin Challenger in Toronto on Thursday to set up a quarter-final meeting with each other at the $50,000 ITF Pro Circuit event at Aviva Centre.
Zhao earned a big win by ousting No. 5 seed and former world No. 11 Shahar Peer of Israel 6-4, 6-3 to make her second straight quarter-final following the $50K Saguenay Challenger last week. After coming back from 4-2 down in the first set, Zhao was the in-control and more steady player through the rest of the match.
“I have a lot of respect for Shahar and it was a great match for me,” said Zhao, who is currently the No. 1-ranked player in NCAA Division I tennis. “I thought I executed a lot of the things I’ve been working on lately which I’m really happy with, I think that’s the most important thing. I was able to win a lot of the big points, and that was really important, especially in the first set.”
This is the third tournament Zhao is playing at Aviva Centre this year, following the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games in July, where she won a gold medal in women’s doubles, and Rogers Cup presented by National Bank in August.
“I love playing at this venue,” the Richmond Hill, Ont. resident said. “I get to stay at home and it’s a wonderful atmosphere. I grew up playing here, so it’s a lot of fun.”
In her match versus No. 3 seed Stephanie Vogt of Liechtenstein, El Tabakh was the stronger player from start to finish in a close 6-4, 7-5 triumph. Though she was broken leading 4-3 in the second set, the 29-year-old took back the break a few games later and then served out the win.
“I thought I played pretty well from the start, I was actually quite aggressive,” El Tabakh said. “I moved well and served well, so pretty much played overall a solid match. I’m happy with how I played and look forward to the quarter-finals.”
Fellow Canadian Francoise Abanda was eliminated in the second round, falling to No. 8-seeded American Kristie Ahn – a former Stanford University teammate of Zhao – by a score of 7-5, 6-1. Ahn will now face Serbian Jovana Jaksic, who advanced via a 7-6(4), 6-3 victory over No. 4 seed Samantha Crawford of the United States.
Friday’s action will feature all four singles quarter-finals. In addition to Zhao versus El Tabakh and Ahn against Jaksic, No. 1 seed Tatjana Maria of Germany will take on last year’s finalist, No. 6-seeded American Maria Sanchez, and No. 7-seeded Dutchwoman Michaella Krajicek will challenge 2011 champion Amra Sadikovic of Switzerland. The doubles final will also take place Friday, with No. 1-seeded Canadian-American pair Sharon Fichman and Sanchez facing off opposite Ahn and Hungarian Fanni Stollar.
The Tevlin Challenger takes place at the Centre of Excellence at Aviva Centre, home of Rogers Cup presented by National Bank, until Sunday November 1. In its 11th year, the tournament has seen many past champions move on to greater successes on the professional circuit, including former world No. 5 and Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard (2012), two-time WTA titlist Heather Watson (2010), 2013 Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Lisicki (2007), and former world No. 21 Aleksandra Wozniak (2005). Admission is free for fans all week. Please click here to view the draws and order of play.