Above photo: Aleksandra Wozniak. Photo courtesy of Karl Mendoza at www.kamera8studios.ca.

News from the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger, July 8-16 at Winnipeg Lawn Tennis Club. 

Wozniak Beats Fellow Canadian Fernandez

In a match-up of Canadians on Stadium Court, Aleksandra Wozniak beat Leylah Annie Fernandez 6-2, 6-1 Monday night. Wozniak, once ranked No. 21 in the world, will play either Hiroko Kuwata of Japan or Sarah-Rebecca Sekulic of Germany in second round women’s singles at the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger.

Tuesday Schedule 

Defending women’s champion Francesca Di Lorenzo of Ohio plays her opening round match against qualifier Jessica Failla, while women’s No. 1 seed Nicole Gibbs takes on Canadian Charlotte Robillard-Millette. The evening match on Stadium Court (not before 6 pm) will be a men’s first round contest between Canadian Philip Bester and No. 8 seed Blaz Rola of Slovenia.

Zhao Wins Opener

Canadian Carol Zhao won her first round match Monday at the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger, beating qualifier Shelby Talcott of the United States 6-2, 6-0.

“First rounds are always tricky and she’s playing well obviously coming through qualies,” said Zhao. “I thought I really executed what I set out to do today.”

Zhao, 22, was born in China and moved to Richmond Hill, Ontario at age six. She teamed up with Gabriella Dabrowski to win gold for Canada in women’s doubles at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto.

Playing for Stanford University, Zhao was the 2015 NCAA women’s singles runner-up and helped her Cardinal women’s team capture the 2016 NCCA Championships title.

“I had a great experience there (at Stanford) and I thought I really grew a lot,” Zhao said. “Now I’m just focused on the next step.”

Zhao decided to forego her senior year at Stanford to play professionally.

“It’s been a massive learning curve the past 12 months but I’ve enjoyed it,” Zhao said. “It’s been a cool challenge.”

Zhao is making her second straight trip to the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger.

“It’s a quaint town and everyone here is super nice,” said Zhao. “They put on a great tournament.”

Peliwo On A Roll

Canadian Filip Peliwo comes into the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger with momentum on his side: he won the Canada F4 Futures in Saskatoon (July 3-9) and was a finalist at the Canada F3 Futures in Kelowna (June 26-July 2). Peliwo won the doubles title in Kelowna and lost the doubles final in Saskatoon, partnering with American Ronnie Schneider in both tournaments.

In the Saskatoon singles final, Peliwo beat Marcos Giron of the United States 7-6(7), 6-7(5), 6-1.

“The third set I stepped it up a bit,” Peliwo said. “He gave me a few points at some bad moments and it went uphill from there.”

Also this year Peliwo captured three Futures titles in Egypt and two Futures titles in Israel. Prior to 2017 Peliwo had won four total men’s singles Futures events. This year alone he’s won six titles.

“To get that many this year has given me a lot of confidence,” said Peliwo, who missed seven months last year due to injuries. “Obviously when you play a lot of matches you feel sharp. I’m definitely on a good streak.”

Peliwo, the 2012 Wimbledon junior boys’ singles champion, came to Winnipeg for the inaugural 2012 Manshield Futures at Sargent Park Tennis Garden. In 2015, Peliwo reached the semifinals of the Manshield Futures at Winnipeg Lawn Tennis Club. He’s competing in the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger for the first time (the tournament was upgraded to a Challenger in 2016).

“Everyone does such a good job here,” Peliwo said. “They make everything such a pleasure. I’ve got great housing from the Ismaths – good friends of mine – and some other players are there too.”

Peliwo, a Vancouver native, trains at the National Training Centre in Montreal. He’ll play fellow Canadian Brayden Schnur in the first round of the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger.

“I’ve known him since we were 12,” said Peliwo. “We’ve played quite a few times.”