Canada’s newest junior prospect is an … American

TORONTO – Another promising teenager is joining the ranks of Tennis Canada’s high-performance program.

Her name is Carson Branstine. She’s a 16-year-old American (in fact, three months younger than Canada’s top prospect, Bianca Andreescu) born and raised in southern California.

But … her mom is from Toronto.

And so, after a first approach was made some months ago, we’re told she has accepted an offer from Tennis Canada to join their program and that things are now being firmed up. She’s expected to be in Montreal at the national centre) and, I suppose, “become” Canadian.

carsonbranstine2_new

Branstine reached the quarter-finals of the junior US Open in September, just before she turned 16, upsetting former No. 1 Olesya Pervushina of Russia along the way before losing to eventual champion Kayla Day.

She played in a Canadian under-18 ranking event in Montreal at the end of September.

On the pro side, she has been playing some events since March 2015, and posted a win over Canadian pro Carol Zhao in the first round of qualifying at a $25,000 tournament in California this past February. She’s already nicely decked out in Nike gear.

Branstine’s official coach of record on the ITF site is a 31-year-old Serb named Radko Mladenovic, who played college tennis in the U.S.). But she has had significant involvement with the USTA, under the tutelage of women’s coach Kathy Rinaldi. Per Zoo Tennis, which covers the American juniors extensively, she trains with Sean Abdali out of the Tennis Club of Newport Beach (Calif.)

She lost 6-1, 6-3 to Canadian Katherine Sebov in the first round of the Tevlin Challenger this week. The score doesn’t quite do the effort justice but it was fairly comprehensive just the same. She has reached the semis of the doubles with Russian veteran Elena Bovina, a former world No. 14 who lives in Quebec City.

Here’s what she looked like.

The fact that an American received a wild card into the main draw of this tournament sort of set off the alarm bells a bit. This is the story. Don’t know much more than that; officially off-duty this week but still an interesting tidbit for those who track Tennis Canada’s junior development efforts. Don’t know what, if anything, the USTA did wrong, or failed to provide in a counter-offer, that would make her jump the border. It’s a pretty major move for a teenager.

First impression: she’s nice and tall and has a big serve. That’s already a plus. There’s a little bit of Rebecca Marino in there, although Branstine’s backhand is definitely better than Marino’s was at that age.  She’s a little bit hard on herself on court 🙂

That Tennis Canada has now had to “import” a junior prospect, with the millions its spends on its high-performance program every year, isn’t the greatest of optics, that’s for sure. Because they will invest an awful lot more money on a player currently ranked No. 81 in the junior ITF rankings.

But if a good player is available, might as well try.

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18 thoughts on “Canada’s newest junior prospect is an … American

  1. lol lots of speculation. I feel like they may be revamping Hp Program and Carson is one of the kids they have chosen to get it back on track again. Its a new era and TC as always is content to cherry pick here and there as they see fit. If your family can afford to send you away for training do you really think the carrot of Hp program is appealing lol? knowledgeable parents know that no federation has produced pro highly ranked players. Start killing it on challenger itf circuit and TC will find you its that simple. I don’t see many parents anymore hoping for an invite to the Hp Program.

  2. Canada can have her. She’s a spoiled, entitled brat. Her on-courts antics are about as bad as you will ever see. No opponent is ever worthy. Any losses are because Carson played badly. Her reputation in SoCal is horrible.

    • Gonna be interesting to see how she will be doing in Montreal and who will she be training with. Did Tennis Canada “forget” to mention that they only have two high performance girls in their program? Bianca trains in Toronto and Charlotte in Montreal; both girls play Futures and do their own thing. Other elite girls train elsewhere and declined Tennis Canada’s invitation to join their program.

      If she is spoiled and entitled, money may not be an issue. Why come to Canada? To train with the boys?

      On another note; wondering what Dennis’ ranking would be right now if he had joined NTC?

    • DJ, her reputation in So Cal is sterling. She can be tempermental on court, she is a bit of a perfectionist, but what top player is not? She is defintely not entitled. She trains very hard and is an excellent student. You obviously do not know her at all. Your comments are totally inaccurate.

  3. Of course Tennis Canada needs this kid. The depth of talent just isn’t there in Canada. TC was riding a high a couple years ago with Bouchard and Milos ascending and Pospisil looking like perhaps a top 20 player and Abanda was a hopeful. TC has suffered nothing less than a reality check of late. It’s tough out there and we’re not as good as many people thought, or hoped. Even Raonic is struggling somewhat and if he doesn’t get off to a solid start in 2017, he could get swallowed up by younger (and less injury-prone) players. What’s left after Milos? Genie? She was never really top 20 material, way too many holes in her technique. Andreescu is short, Robillard-Millette has poor feet. TC needs all the talent they can get or they’re facing more obscurity.

      • She’s listed at 5’5″, which means she’s probably 5’4″ at best. How many players in the top 20 do you see that “tall”? Does she hit like Domi? No? Then she’s short.

        • Okay, just to clarify the data on which you’re basing your opinion.
          1) Have you ever stood next to her?
          2) Have you seen her play lately, in person?

          • I saw her beat Abanda on Wednesday. Stood about 10 feet away from her. She’s about 8 inches shorter than me. I may have grown several inches without realizing it.

          • So:
            1) is a no.
            2) is a yes.
            We’ll just have to disagree on that. Although you may be 7 feet tall for all I know.

        • had lunch with her today (Bianca) and asked her… she says she’s 5’5″…

          altho I’m inclined to agree with you William… my eyes see closer to 5’2″ tbh… but hey best of luck to her…

  4. Don1…its ultimately yours…..mine , canadians money that is financing this program. I see tons of juniors clawing their way trying to get better in a sport we are already playing catch-up in. Optics are horrible .

  5. I am disappointed to hear this. Isn’t the Tennis Canada high performance program supposed to support the development of Canadian kids? There are several strong upcoming juniors in the younger age groups. Let’s focus on them instead of spending thousands of dollars on a foreigner. Wondering how the sponsors feel about that; do they know where their donations are going?

    If money isn’t an issue, why not improve current programs and facilities? Surely many of them would benefit from additional funding. Their BC training center doesn’t even have a fitness area. Their “gym” is a small smelly closet without windows and very little equipment. Sounds like a good investment for injury prevention.

    Steph, do you know why Katherine Sebov did not get a wild card?

    • As far as I know, coach preferred she have the opportunity to get more matches in (same situation in the Saguenay $50K a few weeks ago).
      If you get a tough draw and lose first round both times, that’s a total of, like, two matches in a month and not ideal.

      And yes, the cost per junior player per year is staggering.

  6. Interesting… Am learning to enjoy following the motherlode of talented Canadians in juniors as much as in the pro’s. In three years we could have 3 top Canadian women and 3 top Canadian men at the pro level.

    Would the tennis community really be too offended if we had the odd import to help make the talent pool more competitive? In fact why does she have to become a Canadian? It’s an international sport. Based on a quota, why can’t we train simply the best in Montreal as long as they pay their way?

    • She’s not paying her way. That’s the point.
      But yes, having other top juniors in Montreal training – if they paid their way – would certainly help solve the issue of them not having nearly enough opponents to practice with.
      Trouble is that none of these kids can afford to pay their way. Those that can, can get much better coaching elsewhere.

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