Leylah Fernandez prepares to hit a serve in the shaded part of the court

Olga Danilovic (SRB) v Leylah Fernandez (CAN) Tennis-Billie Jean King Cup—Play Off-Srbija v Kanada Kraljevo, 16.04.2021. foto: Srdjan StevanovicStarsportphoto ©

Finals take place November 1-6 in Prague, Czech Republic

Tennis Canada confirmed on Wednesday that Leylah Fernandez (Laval, QC) will not be joining up with Team Canada for the Billie Jean King Cup Finals presented by BNP Paribas in November. She will be replaced by Carol Zhao (Toronto, ON).

“It has always been an honor to represent my country,” said Fernandez. “Canada has given me and my family so much opportunity and in the last few weeks, the Canadian support has meant the world to me. After consideration, I have made the decision to not play the BJK Cup Finals. I wish my team all the best this November!”

“We know that representing her country means the world to Leylah [Fernandez],” commented Sylvain Bruneau, Interim Team Canada Captain for the Finals. “But it has been a long season and we understand her decision. That said, we are delighted to be able to welcome Carol [Zhao] onto the team for the Finals. Carol has shown from her past experiences that she is a great team player. She will be a very valuable addition to the team.”

Zhao, 26, has played in three Billie Jean King Cup ties so far in her career. Her first nomination came in 2016 when she teamed up with Gabriela Dabrowski in doubles in a World Group II quarter-final clash against Belarus. Her next outing came against Romania in 2018 as she contested singles and doubles rubbers in a 3-1 loss. More recently, she was part of the Canadian team that beat Serbia 4-0 in Kraljevo, pairing up with Rebecca Marino in doubles to beat Ivana Jorovic and Aleksandra Krunic.

The change in lineup means Canada’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals team will now be comprised of Marino (Vancouver, BC), Dabrowski (Ottawa, ON), Françoise Abanda (Montreal, QC) and Zhao (Toronto, ON). The Finals will be played on the hard courts of Prague’s O2 Arena in the Czech Republic from November 1-6. Team Canada will start the competition by facing representatives from France (No. 1) and the Russian Tennis Federation (RTF).