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Pros Can Wait For Virginia’s Branstine
Tuesday, 02/09/2021
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Bianca Andreescu" by Wikimedia is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Canadian tennis is amidst its golden age. Bianca Andreescu is ranked No. 7 by the WTA. Only 20, she won her first Grand Slam title, the 2019 U.S. Open, while still a teenager.
Eugenie Bouchard played in the 2014 Wimbledon women’s singles final. Two years later, Milos Raonic, currently ranked No. 15 by the ATP, was a Wimbledon men’s singles finalist. He’s an eight-time champion on the men’s tour. Denis Shapovalov has won one ATP title and is ranked No. 12 in men’s singles.
Canadian content must now be seriously considered when betting on tennis is part of the discussion. That’s never really been a concern in previous decades.
No one needs to break this news to Carson Branstine. Some of Canada’s elite tennis stars are contemporaries of the Canadian international player. However, Branstine is opting to continue to take a different approach to her tennis development. She’s playing with the NCAA’s Virginia Cavaliers, majoring in media studies and looking forward to the 2021 Division I women’s championships, slated for May 20-29 at the USTA National Campus (Collegiate Center) in Orlando, Fla.
“I think it’s going to help me and it’s going to shape me into the person that I want to be after my tennis career,” Branstine told Canadian Press. “So I have no regrets in the position that I’m in.
“At first it was hard, but now that I’m where I want to be, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I love what I’ve chosen.”
Taking the College Route
The 5-foot-11 Branstine, 20, was born in Irvine, Calif., but competes for Canada. Her mother Carol Freeman was born in Toronto. Atlanta Braves first baseman and 2020 National League MVP Freddie Freeman is her cousin.
Originally, Branstine launched her NCAA tennis career with USC, but injuries derailed her season. She underwent meniscus surgery and was redshirted.
She transferred after that lost year. Virginia was ranked No. 11 in the nation when last year’s NCAA Championships were called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cavaliers are up to No. 10 in the 2021 preseason rankings.
Even though Branstine is in her third year of university schooling, he still holds four years of NCAA eligibility with the Cavs and might even consider utilizing all four of them. Branstine has declared pre-law and could opt to stay and go to grad school while using up the remainder of her tennis ability.
“It depends how my tennis goes,” Branstine explained. “If my tennis is going really well, then I would definitely take the jump and turn pro before I graduate.”
Not that she’s in any hurry to make such a life-altering decision.
“I love this position that I’m in now in terms of college, professional tennis, everything,” Branstine said. “Everything I’m doing now, I think it’s really going to help me in the future.”
Virginia coach Sara O’Leary sees limitless potential in Branstine’s game.
“I think there’s no ceiling on her,” O’Leary told CP. “I think when she sets her mind on something, she’s capable of so much, especially when it comes to her tennis.”
Pro Can Wait
Andreescu, 20, has already earned more than $6.5 million on the WTA Tour. Fellow Canadian Leylah Fernandez, currently 89th on the Tour, has banked $365,699 as a pro.