Person of Interest: Bianca Andreescu, Canada’s next promising tennis star

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Canadian teen Bianca Andreescu carries the Canada flag. (Graham Hughes/CP)

Earlier this month, Canadians woke up to some pretty remarkable news from the tennis court thanks to Bianca Andreescu.

While many of her fellow countrymen and women slept, the 18-year-old was busy pulling off a massive upset at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, almost 14,000 kilometres and 16 time zones from her hometown of Mississauga, Ont., stunning top seed Caroline Wozniacki and catching the attention of the tennis world.

That upset against Wozniacki – ranked No. 1 in the world in 2010-11 and now sitting at No. 3 – was just the beginning of what was an incredible run for Andreescu, who became (quite literally) an overnight sensation. She went on to defeat another former No. 1 in Venus Williams (now ranked 37th) 24 hours later, then earned a spot in the final with a win over Su-Wei Hsieh (No. 28) before falling to Julia Goerges (No. 14) in the final.

Not a bad way to start the new year, and a brand new tennis season. This is only just the beginning for Andreescu, who’s now into the Round of 64 at the Australian Open after a first-round win over American teenager Whitney Osuigwe.

“With what happened last week, I think I can get pretty far into next week,” Andreescu told The Associated Press after advancing through the Aussie Open qualifiers. “And I’m just using momentum from last week. Hopefully I can do that next week as well.

“I think I used it pretty well in the qualifying matches, so I’m really pleased.”

Tennis Canada on Twitter

BOOM. Bianca Andreescu is into the #AusOpen main draw, overcoming Tereza Smitkova 6-0, 4-1 ret. After an exhausting week in Auckland, the 18-year-old got a little lucky in qualifying with two retirement wins, but hey, we’ll take it. Fresh and ready for the main draw.

Here’s what you need to know about this promising tennis star.

She jumped 45 spots in a single week

Sports fans will recall the rapid rise of Canada’s Denis Shapovalov in 2017, who started the year ranked 250th on the ATP circuit and finished at No. 51. Andreescu is no doubt forging her own unique path, but it’s still an interesting comparison to make. Andreescu’s remarkable run at the ASB Classic saw her enter the tournament ranked No. 152 and jump to No. 107 by week’s end.

She fell in love with tennis in Romania

Andreescu was born in Canada to Romanian parents, and was back and forth between the two countries quite a bit as a child for her mother’s work. An active kid, Andreescu was encouraged by her parents to pick up a tennis racquet.

Considered a late bloomer to the sport – she showed plenty of raw talent during tennis lessons at age nine – it didn’t take her very long to capture the attention of Tennis Canada scouts.

“She was known to be a good player at 13,” Peter Malcomson of the Ontario Tennis Association told The Star‘s Jason Miller. “Around the age of 15, it was pretty evident, even to Tennis Canada, that she was a blue chipper.”

Andreescu points to 2014 as the year that changed everything. She won the prestigious Les Petit As tournament in France that year, an experience that told her she could make it to the pros.

“It’s a very prestigious tournament with many people watching. I kind of felt like I was a pro there; I signed autographs and all of that,” Andreescu told WTA Insider back in 2017. “I really loved it. That’s when I thought I wanted to be a pro all the time.”

Her idol is Simona Halep

After finding plenty of success on the ITF circuit, a 16-year-old Andreescu received some wise advice from her idol, Romania’s Simona Halep:

“I told her to move [up] and not to play junior [tennis] anymore,” Halep, currently ranked No. 1 in the world, told CBC Sports’ Chicco Nacion. “She needs to face stronger players. I stayed too long in juniors, until [I was] 18. I think [that] was a little bit too much.

Bianca V. Andreescu on Twitter

Had such an amazing experience launching the #minicouperogers with Simona Halep in Downtown Montreal.

“I’m proud that I could win a Grand Slam in juniors — it was important in that moment and still is,” Halep said. “[But] to get in the [Tour’s] top faster, you have to start [playing professional] earlier.”

Bianca V. Andreescu on Twitter

She put in the work and never gave up #idol @Simona_Halep

It’s a fine balance for those looking to break into the WTA scene, as wins on the ITF circuit can go a long way in your rankings but playing on tennis’s biggest stage is ultimately the best way to get better – and get noticed.

Andreescu dipped her toe in the pros when she won a berth at Wimbledon’s main draw through qualifiers in 2017, and even won her first-round matchup.

The Australian Open is her second shot at Grand Slam competition – the first of a season that’s sure to have plenty more WTA opportunities.

#AusOpen on Twitter

Simona Halep and Serena Williams are in the same round of 16 #AusOpen

She’s another promising part of a wave of young Canadian talent

Ever since Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard broke onto the scene to start putting Canada on the single’s tennis map, there has been a steady stream of young Canadian talent hitting the court.

“It gives confidence to many [young] players around the world and [encourages] athletes to pick up a racquet,” Andreescu told CBC Sports’ Chicco Nacion. “It gives Canadian players like me, Charlotte [Robillard-Millette], Felix [Auger-Aliassime], and Ben [Sigouin] confidence to do even better.”

“I remember we were all playing nationals a couple years back and now we’re playing pro tournaments,” she said. “It’s honestly unbelievable. We’re family. We’re a small group of people and all we do is support each other.”

She’s already involved in encouraging the next wave, too.

Bianca V. Andreescu on Twitter

Had lots of fun yesterday with the U12 Camp. The future of Canadian tennis looks bright. Thank you for having me

She’s got a wicked workout regimen

Andreescu is turning heads with her power, and her ability to mix up shots and adapt to her opponents. When you look at some of her training workouts, it’s no surprise the hard-working Canuck is finding success.

Puttin’ in dat work w/ @sirclem_strengthcoach #itnevastops

875 Likes, 22 Comments – Bibi (@biancaandreescu_) on Instagram: “Puttin’ in dat work w/ @sirclem_strengthcoach #itnevastops”

She’s very GIFable

No rise to stardom is complete without plenty of reaction from the Twitterverse. And getting made into GIFs or memes? That’s next-level, and she’s clearly embracing the fun side of the game.

Bianca V. Andreescu on Twitter

Oh gawd I am truly sorry Side note: I feel like there are so many captions for this GIF… let’s here em https://t.co/TmP8mRQzvT

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She’s on a mission to save all the scruffs

When in Romania, Andreescu has been known to go searching for stray animals in need.

“She picks up homeless dogs and cats and takes them to veterinary office, cleans them up and then give them to relatives for adoption,” Andreescu’s mother, Maria, told The Star‘s Jason Miller. “My family back home ended up with few of these animals also Bianca regularly calls and checks up on them.

“She loves animals to the extreme,” she said. “Her intention is to open shelters around the world.”

I’ll take 10 of em :)

874 Likes, 20 Comments – Bibi (@biancaandreescu_) on Instagram: “I’ll take 10 of em :)”

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