The 2015 season was highlighted by standout performances from some of our top juniors. Canada is drawing more and more attention from other nations with three players ranked inside the Top 30 on the world junior rankings. We sat down with Sylvain Bruneau, head of the NTC women’s team and Fed Cup team to learn more about the season that was for Bianca Vanessa Andreescu (ON), Charlotte Robillard-Millette (QC), and Katherine Sebov (ON).
What were some of the best moments from this season?
What impressed me the most about the three girls is the consistency of their results. They had good wins at the junior level with Charlotte and Bianca playing eachother in the Repentigny final as well as Katherine winning the Australian Open warm up event. Not to mention that Charlotte reached no. 4 on the junior rankings after capturing two titles this spring. But, they also did well at the pro level. The two performances that come to mind are Bianca’s run to the Gatineau final in her first pro tournament and Charlotte’s victory over former world no. 11 Shahar Peer at the Saguenay National Bank Challenger.
Were you surprised by their quick rise in the rankings?
I know they have a lot of potential so I expected them to have a good year, but I’ll admit that the results exceeded my expectations, which certainly isn’t a bad thing!
What did they improve the most?
In my opinion, they all progressed a lot this year. They were able to better understand what style of play best suited them and allow them to succeed not only now, but also in the long term. They learned to play more offensive tennis, take the ball earlier after the bounce, and hit a heavier ball. They added some weapons to their game and have come a long way in a short time. I am sure they will do more of the same in 2016.
What are some of the objectives for next season?
The plan is to officially start their transition to the pros since we believe that they have the level and capacity to do it, even if they are still young. But, we don’t want to eliminate junior tournaments all together. They will continue playing the junior Grand Slams and some warm up events. I am confident that they have what it takes to win a Major.
Is it possible that one of the three girls will be selected for the Fed Cup team?
Charlotte was chosen this year for the tie in February against the Czech Republic. I will be very open to the possibility in 2016 and their will be opportunities for the juniors. We have established pro players, but we could see a mix of veterans and rookies. Nothing has been determined yet, so it will be up to the players to make the decisions for us.
Unlike the NTC boys who work more as a group, Charlotte, Bianca and Katherine work individually with an experienced coach. Do you think this is an advantage for them?
The current formula is indeed different for the girls compared to the boys, but I think it has been adapted to fit their needs. They’re able to have the full attention of their coach, which is a privilege, especially at 15 and 16 years old. They have responded well and are learning quickly so I think it is an advantage for their development.
To finish, what is the first quality you look for in a player?
Definitely passion. It is getting harder and harder to play on the pro circuit. If players are passionate about their sport then they are more willing to put forth the effort neccesary, both on and off the court, to be the best they can be.