When teen tennis phenom Leylah Annie Fernandez beat Naomi Osaka at the US Open in 2021, naysayers were quick to say it was just a fluke.
On March 6, Fernandez defended her title at the Monterrey Open in Mexico, beating out Colombia's Camila Osorio after five match points and a tiebreaker. This is Fernandez’s second consecutive win at the Monterrey Open and her second World Tennis Association (WTA) title of her career. The win skyrocketed her WTA ranking from 72 to 21.
Although Fernandez lost last year’s US Open to fellow teenager Britain’s Emma Raducanu, she nevertheless proved that making her mark in international tennis circuits is certainly no fluke.
The 19-year-old Canadian Filipino lefty from Laval, QC is the fourth Canadian Grand Slam finalist, following Milos Raonic, Eugenie Bouchard and Bianca Andreescu.
Following the Monterrey Open win, Tennis Canada announced that Fernandez will lead team Canada to the Billie Jean King Cup to be held in Vancouver from April 15 to 16. The last time Vancouver hosted the Cup was in 1996.
Fernandez will be joined by Rebecca Marino (Vancouver, BC), Gabriela Dabrowski (Ottawa, ON), Francoise Abanda (Montreal, QC), and Carol Zhao (Richmond Hill, ON).
In 2021, Fernandez secured a playoff tie victory for Canada to advance to this year’s Billie Jean King Cup.
Canada and Latvia will go head-to-head for the very first time. Canada is currently ranked No. 9 in the Billie Jean King Cup competition while Latvia is No. 14.
In a Tennis Canada article, Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge praised the team, “The athletes competing in the Billie Jean King Cup are brimming with talent. They are elite competitors and are passionate.” She added, “These athletes are an immense source of pride. They inspire us all, youth in particular, to live a more active life. Our government wishes all the participants the best of luck.”
For her part, Fernandez is excited to be playing on Canadian soil. “I’m really excited to be playing at this year’s Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers,” said Fernandez. “I always have so much fun playing at these ties and I’m excited to finally be able to do it on home soil. Wearing the Canadian colours on court is always an honour and I can’t wait to do it in front of a Canadian crowd.”