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.
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.
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.