Three Canadians were in action on Saturday 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 was the lone Canadian left in the singles draw, as she was looking to secure a spot in the final. Standing in her way was the fast-serving Indy De Vroome of the Netherlands. In an extremely tight first set, the 22-year-old Canadian got the slight edge on her opponent, taking the opener in a tiebreak. Despite experiencing difficulties on her serve, notably committing five double faults, De Vroome managed to even out the score and bring the match to a third set. In the decider, there was a high level of tennis as the players engaged in exciting rallies, much to the delight of the packed crowd. Similar to the previous two sets, the third required a tiebreak where it was De Vroome who got a late mini break to take the match by a score of 6-7(4), 7-6(6), 7-6 (5).
Playing in the other semi-final was the tournament’s sixth seed Samantha Murray of Great Britain and the third seed, Robin Anderson of the United States, who defeated Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez the day before. It was the American who jumped out to a quick lead, relying on her effective serving to take the opening set. The second was a mirror image of the first, with Anderson dominating most points. She needed only 55 minutes to book a spot in her second singles final of 2019. Anderson is competing in Saguenay for a third year in a row, having reached the first round in 2017 and the second in 2018.
In the doubles final, the Canadian duo of Leylah Annie Fernandez (Laval, QC) and Mélodie Collard (Gatineau, QC) were taking on the top seeds Samantha Murray of Great Britain and partner Bibiane Schoofs of the Netherlands. Playing together for the first time in a professional event, the young Canadians caused the upset against their more experienced opponents, capturing the title with a 7-6(3), 6-2 victory. This is Collard’s first professional title and Fernandez’s third, having won both the singles and doubles events at the Gatineau National Bank Challenger this summer.
“It has been a great week here in Saguenay. We have enjoyed playing here in front of the home crowd who helped us get through our matches. This is hopefully the first of many,” stated Collard after the win
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.