Two Canadian players were vying for a spot in the semi-finals on Friday at the Saguenay National Bank Challenger. Sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the tournament offers $60,000 USD in prize money and is being held from October 21 to 27 at the Saguenay Indoor Tennis Club.

Françoise Abanda (Montreal, QC) was returning to the court after dealing with a few injury issues this year. She had the tough task of facing Kimberley Zimmermann of Belgium. Despite going down early, Abanda stormed back to take the opening set. The second was a little more complicated for the Canadian, as her opponent elevated her game. The match needed a deciding third set where the players engaged in long and exciting rallies, much to the delight of the crowd. Abanda was able to secure a spot in the semi-finals thanks to a 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 victory. Up next, she will face Indy De Vroome of the Netherlands who got the better of American qualifier Jessica Livianu 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.

Looking to reach her fifth professional semi-final of the year, Leylah Annie Fernandez (Laval, QC) was in action against the tournament’s third seed, Robin Anderson of the United States. After the players exchanged some opening breaks, it was the Canadian who managed to retain the slight lead and take the opening set. Anderson then leveled the score and brought the match to a decider. Fernandez experienced some difficulties on serve and found herself trailing. Despite a valiant effort at a comeback, she fell just short, losing 3-6, 6-4. 6-3. Anderson will face the sixth seed Samantha Murray of Great Britain who defeated Bibiane Schoofs of the Netherlands (no. 2) by a score of 7-6(6), 6-3.

Photo : Valérie Simard

In doubles, Fernandez and partner Mélodie Collard (Gatineau, QC) booked their spot in the final thanks to a dominant performance over Anna Morgina of Russia and Holly Verner of the United States by a score of 6-4, 6-1. On Sunday, the Canadian duo will take on the tournament’s top seeded doubles team of Bibiane Schoofs and Samantha Murray. It will be Collard’s first final on the professional circuit while Fernandez will be going for her second pro doubles title of the year.

The Saguenay National Bank Challenger is the final Challenger tournament held in Quebec in 2019. The tournament was preceded by the National Bank Challenger tournaments in Drummondville, Gatineau and Granby earlier this year.

*Feature photo: Valérie Simard