Tennis Canada wants to empower girls and women to pursue a career in tennis by introducing a Circle of ambassadors, a group of inspirational women and men who will champion Game.Set.Equity in a public-facing manner through networking events, panels, and other initiatives while also serving as role models for girls and women who are interested in getting involved in the game. Our objective is to highlight the different pathways the sport has to offer.
Get to know the women and men who have graciously accepted to take on the role of ambassador as part of the unveiling of Game.Set.Equity.
Canadian WTA Player
The Rebecca Marino story is a well-documented one. A remarkable comeback that continues to inspire so many, both on the court and off.
The Vancouverite first announced her arrival on the WTA Tour in 2010 when she faced the legendary Venus Williams in the second round of the U.S. Open at Arthur Ashe Stadium. In 2011, the Canadian reached her first WTA final in Memphis and achieved a career-high ranking of no. 38.
The second chapter of Rebecca’s tennis career, which began in 2018, has not only been about proving that she still belongs at the top of the women’s game, but it’s also been about becoming an important spokesperson when it comes to athletes and their mental health. She’s also using her platform to advocate for equity and more opportunities for women in sport.
In 2022, Rebecca reached three quarter-finals and posted her first third round appearance at a Grand Slam, 12 years after making her Major main draw debut. She finished the season ranked no. 63 in the world and has the Top 50 in her sights in 2023.
Canadian WTA Player
Carol Zhao has been playing professionally since 2016 and was Canada’s top-ranked singles player on the WTA Tour from June 11 – July 23, 2018, during which time she reached her career-best singles ranking of no. 131.
Before that, Carol, who was born in Chongqing, China before coming to Toronto with her family, was a member of Tennis Canada’s National Tennis Centre presented by Rogers. As a junior, she captured the 2013 Australian Open doubles title with Croatia’s Ana Konjuh. She went on to enjoy a standout NCAA career with the Stanford Cardinal, leading her team to the NCAA championship in 2016 and finishing as the singles runner-up in 2015. Carol also won a gold medal at the 2015 Pan Games alongside her compatriot, Gabriela Dabrowski.
Off the court, Carol plays piano and guitar, sings, composes music, and writes her own lyrics.
Former Canadian WTA Player
Sharon Fichman played her last professional match in November of 2021 at the prestigious WTA Finals in Guadalajara, Mexico. She qualified for the doubles competition alongside Giuliana Olmos as a reward for the pair’s successful season on the tour which included winning the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, a WTA 1000 tournament. The victory was Sharon’s fourth career WTA doubles crown. She reached a career-high doubles ranking of no. 21 in January of 2022 to go along with a career-best singles ranking of no. 77 achieved in 2014.
As a junior, the Toronto native won two Grand Slam doubles titles with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at the Australian Open and Roland-Garros in 2006. She was also the no. 5 ranked junior player in the world that year.
Sharon was also nominated 28 times to represent Canada at the Billie Jean King Cup from 2005-2020. During that span, she maintained a win-loss record of 24-10. In 2020, she competed in the Tokyo Olympic Games, in doubles alongside her compatriot Gabriela Dabrowski.
Currently, she is a well-respected tennis broadcaster for Sportsnet during the National Bank Open presented by Rogers and the Billie Jean King Cup.
Captain of Canada’s Billie Jean King Cup Team
Heidi El Tabakh retired from professional tennis in 2016 after achieving a career-high singles ranking of no. 146 and a top doubles ranking of no. 173.
Born in Egypt before moving to Canada, the country she represented on the international scene beginning in 2005, she won nine ITF singles and 10 ITF doubles trophies during her career. Heidi made her Grand Slam debut at Roland-Garros in 2010 and two years later, she qualified for the French Open main draw once again and drew fellow Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak in the opening round.
Heidi was named captain of the Canadian Billie Jean King Cup team in 2019, following in the footsteps of Sylvain Bruneau.
Head of Performance – Tennis Canada
As Head of Performance at Tennis Canada, Guillaume Marx oversees the National Tennis Centre presented by Rogers (NTC), the regional tennis centres based in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver that bring together the best under-14 players in each area as well as the women and men’s tennis programs, including Billie Jean King Cup, Davis Cup and Olympic teams.
He joined the organization in 2007, moving his family from France to Montreal to serve as the Head Boys National Coach at the National Tennis Centre under the leadership of former Vice-President of High Performance, Louis Borfiga. During that time, he coached and travelled with Félix Auger-Aliassime and Milos Raonic on the ATP Tour.
Before coming to Canada, Marx worked for the French Tennis Federation where he coached the likes of Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon.
Women’s Tennis Lead Consultant – Tennis Canada
Sylvain Bruneau began his coaching career at the age of 18 while he was still a student. Five years later, he made his first overseas trip with Tennis Canada, which would be the beginning of a great adventure. Today, he is Tennis Canada’s Women’s Tennis Lead Consultant and a respected TV commentator for RDS.
During his 35-year career, he has coached and supported Canada’s top junior and professional players. Bruneau also served as Canada’s Billie Jean King Cup captain from 2010-2019 and coached Bianca Andreescu from 2018-2021. Under his tutelage, she enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2019 winning three titles on the WTA Tour in Indian Wells, Toronto, and the U.S. Open to become the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title. Her accomplishments earned Bruneau the 2019 Jack Donohue Coach of the Year Award,
Former Canadian WTA Player
Marie-Ève Pelletier retired from the WTA Tour in 2013 after achieving a career-high singles ranking of no. 106 and a top doubles ranking of no. 54.
The Repentigny, Quebec native won a total of 25 ITF doubles titles. Her biggest singles win came at her home tournament in Montreal when she beat Li Na in the opening round of the National Bank Open presented by Rogers in 2006.
Marie-Ève was a regular on Canada’s Billie Jean King Cup team, representing her country every year from 2002-2012 in the prestigious international competition. She boasts a win-loss record of 25-15.
Currently, she is a well-respected tennis broadcaster for TVA Sports during the National Bank Open, the Billie Jean King Cup, and various WTA tournaments.
Chief Executive, Professional Tennis and US Tournament Director – United States Tennis Association
Stacey Allaster is a made-in-Canada internationally renowned sports and entertainment leader, champion of equality, and innovator in the sport of tennis.
Currently, she is responsible for setting the strategic vision and growth strategy for the US Open and for the USTA’s professional tennis division. Before that, Allaster served as Chair/ CEO of the WTA Tour and was instrumental in the international growth of women’s tennis. She increased player prize money by 100% and notably helped to secure equal prize money at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and WTA major events.
Prior to her role with the WTA, Allaster was the Tournament Director of the National Bank Open presented by Rogers and VP of Sales & Marketing for Tennis Canada. In 2022, she was awarded the Order of Canada in the companion category, one of the highest civilian honours in her native country.
Past Chair – Tennis Canada Board of Directors
Jennifer Bishop is a business law partner at Aird & Berlis LLP in Toronto, Canada. She is the founder and Chair of the firm’s Sports, Media & Entertainment Group. Since the Group’s inception, clients have included owners of professional sports teams, associations, executives, high-profile athletes, coaches, directors, multi-sport event organizers, funding partners, sponsors, broadcasters and charitable organizations.
Jennifer has won numerous awards including being recognized as one of Lexpert’s Rising Stars: Leading Lawyers Under 40 and is listed in Best Lawyers in Canada for Corporate Law. She is a frequent speaker on matters relating to business law and gender equity in sport, and has been invited to speak at the United Nations Special Commission on Women. Jennifer is the incoming global chair of the International Bar Association’s Women’s Leadership Group and a member of the Holt Xchange Sports and Media Fund Advisory Board.
Jennifer is on the Executive Board of Tennis Canada, Chair of the Nominating Committee and is the immediate past Chair of the Board. Last year, Jennifer was appointed to one of the most prestigious committees of the International Tennis Federation, the Davis Cup Committee, where she is the only woman, and the second woman in history, to be appointed to this committee. Previously, Jennifer was the first Canadian appointed to the Billie Jean King Cup Committee.
Jennifer is dedicated to providing safe opportunities for sport through various means, including through her work as the Chair of the Board of the Doug Philpott Inner City Children’s Tennis Foundation. The organization is a not-for-profit organization that offers free tennis programs year-round for children aged 6-15 in priority neighbourhoods, serving over 8,500 participants each year in the City of Toronto, Canada. In recognition of her contributions to the sport of tennis, Jennifer was recently inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Tennis Hall of Fame as an athlete and builder.
Executive Vice-President – Personal Banking and Client Experience – National Bank
Lucie Blanchet oversees all personal banking operations at National Bank. In that capacity, she manages the network of financial planners, branches and client contact centres. Her responsibilities also include product and pricing management, distribution and marketing strategies, as well as developing the Bank’s digital offering.
Ms. Blanchet joined National Bank in 2002. She worked for 7 years as part of the Risk Management business line. She is a chartered professional accountant (CPA) with over 25 years of experience in the banking industry. Prior to joining National Bank, she worked for the Business Development Bank of Canada as well as Société générale and Crédit Lyonnais, two European banks. She began her career at KPMG.
Ms. Blanchet prizes effective teamwork and makes it one of her highest priorities to engender inclusive and productive innovation in all professional activities.
President and Chief Executive Officer – Tennis Canada
Michael Downey returned to Tennis Canada as President and Chief Executive Officer in July 2017—a position he held for nearly a decade up to 2013. From 2014 to mid 2017, he served as Chief Executive of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) based in London, England. He possesses extensive executive management experience in the sport, beer and marketing industries.
During his first term at Tennis Canada, Downey developed a bold plan to diversify and increase revenue to reinvest in tennis development and the National Bank Open tournaments. In 2007, he prompted the Board of Directors of Tennis Canada to invest over $1 million annually in high performance; an initiative that led to Canada’s first ever, National Tennis Centre in Montreal and regional U14 programs in Toronto, and later in Vancouver.
Known and recognized in the Toronto sports market, Michael also held senior executive positions with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and Air Canada Centre, and served as President of Skydome and Molson Sports & Entertainment.
Tournament Director of the Toronto National Bank Open – Tennis Canada
Karl Hale is one of the most respected figures in the tennis industry. He played competitive tennis internationally, representing Jamaica in Davis Cup as a player and coach. He is a also former Billie Jean King Cup coach for Canada. In 2007, Hale was the No. 1 ranked over 40 player in the world on the ITF rankings.
Since 2006, Hale has been the National Bank Open Toronto Tournament Director. During his tenure, he has developed a reputation for strong leadership and player relations.
Hale has also headed up several prestigious private tennis clubs. Under his leadership, the facilities have more courts and bubbles, and programming has grown by 300%. Karl has placed more head professionals in top roles than any other professional in Canada.
Vice-President, Tennis Participation & Partnership – Tennis Canada
A former Division One collegiate soccer player and coach, Eva Havaris earned numerous accolades most notably being recognized as the Canadian University Sport women’s soccer MVP in 2003 and earning an induction into the Western Mustangs Hall of Fame in 2019.
Concurrent to her exploits on the field, Havaris launched her career as an Executive in the Canadian Sport industry and has worked at the provincial and national levels in sport. She joined Rugby Canada in 2006 and worked as the Associate Director of High-Performance Women’s Rugby and Rugby Development Manager until 2010. She later went on to serve as CEO of two National Sport Organizations – Taekwondo Canada and Equestrian Canada. She was also a member of the Executive team that launched the Canadian Premier League serving as the Vice-President of Strategy and League Operations and Chief of Staff for York United FC.
Recently recognized with the prestigious Top 25 Women of Influence award, Havaris uses her position, platform, and reach to create and support game-changing opportunities for girls and women who want to build careers in the sport industry.
Executive Director – Tennis Quebec
The relationship between Tennis Quebec and Andréanne Martin is not new as she’s held various positions within the organization since the early 2000s. She was also a long-time seniors tennis player, winning 14 national titles and a bronze medal at the 2014 World Senior Championships in Florida.
After many years on the courts playing, teaching, and promoting the sport, Andréanne took up the challenge of changing her work environment in 2016 and accepted the position of Regional and Technical Development Director at Tennis Quebec.
On the strength of her experience in tennis and with a background acquired at the HEC Montreal management school, Andréanne accepted the general direction of Tennis Quebec in 2021, becoming one of the first women to hold the role within a provincial tennis federation.
Vice President, WTA 125 Operations – Women’s Tennis Association
Melissa Pine oversees the growth and operations of more than 30 WTA 125 events, including education of promoters and Tournament Directors on rules, license agreements, event marketing, and athlete education platforms. In addition to her role with the WTA, she also serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of Tennis Newfoundland and Labrador.
Pine was also the first female Tournament Director of WTA’s crown-jewel event, the WTA Finals. She opened the first WTA regional headquarters in Singapore, directed the most successful WTA Finals in history over a 5-year term, with record attendance of 168,273 over the 10-day sport entertainment event, and unprecedented broadcast and digital reach.
Originally from Outer Cove, Newfoundland, Pine is a former provincial tennis champion, Atlantic champion, and a past semifinalist at the Canadian junior nationals. She earned a full tennis scholarship at Washington State University, was team captain and two-time All-American Scholar-Athlete. She is a frequent guest speaker on Sport Business at universities and conferences around the world.
Tournament Director of the Montreal National Bank Open – Tennis Canada
Valérie Tétreault is one of the most recognized, appreciated, and endearing tennis experts in the province of Québec. She is a torchbearer for tennis advocacy, ambassadorship, and advancement in Canada.
Tétreault retired from professional tennis at the end of the 2010 season as one the top 125 players on the WTA Tour. She was 22. Shortly after retirement, Valérie joined Tennis Canada in 2011 as a communications specialist and was promoted to Director of Communications in 2018. From 2012 to 2020, she served in a very public capacity as the go-to, regular tennis expert and commentator on TVA Sports.
In the fall of 2022, Tétreault was named Tournament Director of the National Bank Open presented by Rogers in Montreal, taking over the reins from Eugène Lapierre. She is the first woman to occupy the position in tournament history.
Chair of the Board – Ontario Tennis Association
Dianne is the Chair of the Board of the Ontario Tennis Association (OTA) and has served on the Board in various capacities since 2012.
Founded in 1918, the OTA is the largest provincial tennis association in Canada, with 250 clubs and academies representing 85,000 adult and junior players.
Dianne is the second woman elected to serve as Chair in the association’s 100+ year history.
In 2020, Dianne retired from the Board of Directors of the Scarborough Tennis Federation after 14 years serving in various capacities, including President and Past President. She also has 16 years’ experience as a community tennis club President and served for eight years on the City of Toronto Tennis Liaison Committee. In 2022, Dianne was awarded the Scarborough Tennis Federation Distinguished Service Award for outstanding volunteer service for tennis in Scarborough.
Dianne has worked in the securities industry for over 30 years, and currently works in the public affairs department of a regulatory organization where she is responsible for the management and execution of high-profile, large-scale national corporate events.
Since 2018, Dianne has served on the Board of Directors of YouthLink, a multi-service agency offering youth and family counselling, parenting support, youth shelter and housing, and education programs for youth aged 12-24 and their families. She is currently the Chair of the Community Engagement Committee.
Chief Tournaments Officer & Managing Director, National Bank Open Toronto – Tennis Canada
Gavin Ziv joined Tennis Canada as the Coordinator of National Events in tennis development in 1998 and later became the Operations Manager for the National Bank Open. In 2007, he was named the Director of National Events alongside his manager role for National Bank Open.
Ziv is now responsible for all facets of the international competitive structure in Canada as well as officiating. He oversees all professional tennis events for men and women in Canada including Davis and Billie Jean King Cup ties. He also helped to develop the functional and operational program for the Sobeys Stadium in addition to being responsible for the overall management of the National Bank Open in Toronto and Montreal.
A key liaison with the WTA and ATP Tours, Mr. Ziv currently sits on the WTA Board, WTA Media Steering Committee, the WTA Tournament Council, and the ATP Media Board.