The ace up Toronto’s sleeve
Local tennis prodigy Bianca Andreescu, raised on a steady diet of Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic, is not modest about her goals. World. Tennis. Domination. It starts this month at Rogers Cup in Toronto
Milos Raonic is a permanent fixture amongst the world’s top tennis players. Eugenie Bouchard is a perennial favourite and on the comeback trail. But things move quickly, and it could be time for the next generation of Canadian tennis stars to move into the spotlight led by locals Bianca Andreescu (and Denis Shapovalov). Andreescu — the youngest player in the top 200 professional rankings — is back in Toronto this month ready to make a hometown splash at Rogers Cup, Aug. 5 to 13.
You were the highest rank 16-year-old in the world. Not a bad way to start your career.
It means a lot. I’m very proud of myself. I’ve been working hard, putting in the hours to get where I am right now, and I think I’m at a really good stage.
You made your Wimbledon debut last month. It must have been special.
I mean, I have no words when I qualified for Wimbledon. It was just so amazing being there with all the pros. The first round was really tough, but it all comes with experience, so I’m just going to take it as a lesson and move forward.
What’s the difference when compared to your time as a junior?
With the juniors, it’s really different. The pros give no points away. The juniors, you can slide off a couple and get it back. But you always have to be on with the pros.
Are you excited about playing in the main draw this month in front of your fans?
It’s going to be really fun to play in my hometown where I train. Obviously, my goal is to do really well here. So I’m just going to go out there and enjoy the moment and see how that goes.
Have you played at a tournament of this magnitude at home before?
I played Rogers Cup two years ago in the qualifiers, and a lot of people came to watch, and that was a really fun experience.
You were there alongside another teen phenom, Denis Shapovalov. Did you hatch plans to dominate tennis?
We didn’t really get the chance to see each other, to be honest, but of course, for Canadian tennis, it’s amazing. We always motivate each other to do better, and that’s really helping right now.
To whom would you say your game is most comparable?
Simona Halep. I really admire her as a player and as a person. I got the chance to talk to her and be with her at Rogers Cup in Montreal last year. We did a thing with the kids at the Olympic Stadium. We have a
similar style, and I try to model my game after her.
And where do you want your career to be in, say, five years?
Top 10 for sure and winning a grand slam.
What first piqued your interest in tennis?
When I was younger, I was a pretty active child and tried many sports. My parents put me in tennis one day, and I’ve loved it ever since.
Why did tennis click?
I’m not really sure why, but now I just love everything about it — travelling around the world, pushing myself, and the feeling of winning is amazing.
What did you have to sacrifice to get in this position?
I would say, for sure, being with my friends and family at home as well as my school. I only do online. When I’m home, I try to see the teacher, but I’ve never had that high school experience. But that’s all part of it.
What do you like to do for fun at home?
When I’m not on tour, I always try to find time for my friends. I love to hang out with them, and I’m very adventurous, so I like to go golfing, swim, hike, and I love going to concerts.
Where are you happiest?
For sure on the tennis court somewhere nice, maybe Monaco or Monte Carlo, training on the clay.
And what do you want to do with your career?
To make Canadian history, to be on the Fed Cup team [Fed Cup is the premier international team competition in women’s tennis] and become number one in the world.
What’s been the highlight so far?
I would say, playing Fed Cup for the first time in Montreal with the team. And being in the main draw at Wimbledon.