January 11, 2017
With the level of Canadian tennis arguably at the highest it’s ever been in the last five years, it’s easy to get lost in the crop of young talent that only seems to be getting better year after year. With the likes of Denis Shapovalov and Bianca Andreescu, taking the tennis world by storm with their undeniable talent, there is one 16-year-old from the heart of British Columbia who is on the verge of being included in that very exclusive worldwide conversation for many years to come.
Sasha is the latest to emerge from a crop of young Canadian talent. The 16-year-old Vancouverite solidified her status among Canada’s finest this past August after capturing her second U18 national singles title in as many tries—just a day after capturing the doubles crown with Ontario’s Isabelle Boulais—at the Ontario Racquet Club in Mississauga. We caught up with the teenager after the completion of her monumental sweep to get a quick look at her busy training schedule, her goals for next season and her favourite show to binge-watch:
Q.When did you first pick up a racquet?
A.Around seven years old.
Q.At what point did you realize you wanted to take tennis more seriously and maybe pursue it as a career?
A.Around 11-12 years old when I started training with Tennis Canada and played my first tournaments.
Q.From what I’ve seen, you play with a ton of passion on the court so would you consider yourself an inherently competitive person? Do you have any siblings?
A.I love competing on court and will always bring a fierce presence in every match. However, I find it important to be able to separate competition and life, so off court I would not describe myself as super competitive [even though] I have a 25-year-old brother.
Q.Where do you train these days?
A.I train in my hometown of Vancouver with Tennis Canada.
Q.How’s that going? They always say home is where the heart is, but how beneficial has it been for you to train alongside the best in the business at the National Tennis Centre in Montréal?
A.I love it at home but going to Montreal for a few weeks at a time is always beneficial for me and I enjoy myself every time I get the opportunity to go train there.
Q.You have a lot of moving parts in your aggressive game, so what would you say has to work for you to play your best?
A.I think my mental strength is one of my best assets so I find this aspect very important to have in order to play my best!
Q.Speaking of how aggressive you are, how would you describe your game to someone who just watched you for the first time?
A.I would describe my game as an aggressive baseline player that likes to finish points at the net.
Q.Who do you look up to? Are there any other powerful lefties who you maybe try to emulate on the court?
A.I love watching Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova because I admire their aggressive game styles.
Q.What do one of your standard training days look like back home?
A.I go to school for half the day and then practice [and do fitness training] from 1:30 to 6!
Q.You are only 16 and one of the best players in a whole crop of young Canadian talent. How do you balance school with your intense schedule?
A.It’s very difficult to balance school with my tennis as I am traveling quite often. My family and I find it very important to stay on track with school so I take half my courses online to balance out the work load.
Q.What short- and long-term goals do you have now that your junior days in Canada are over?
A.My long-term goal would be to pursue a career in professional tennis. But next year, I am aiming to compete in the Junior Grand Slams and to play more professional tournaments.