2016 ATP Star of Tomorrow Taylor Fritz Awarded Special Exemption for Odlum Brown VanOpen
News Aug 11, 2017
2017 Granby Challenger Doubles Champion Carol Zhao Added to Women’s Main Draw
Vancouver, BC – Organizers of the Odlum Brown VanOpen are pleased to announce the addition of a rising American star along with several of Canada’s top players as entries into the main draw of the tournament.
On the men’s side, Brayden Schnur, Filip Peliwo and Philip Bester were previously announced as participants at the Odlum Brown VanOpen, but now fans are able to see all three guaranteed in the main draw, which starts on Monday, August 14. Joining them as a special exemption entry is one of the top rising stars in the United States, 19-year-old Taylor Fritz of Palos Verdes, California.
Fritz is the second fastest American ever to reach an ATP final, accomplishing the feat in his second career event. He was the number one ranked boy’s junior player in 2015 and was named the ITF Junior World Champion that year. Fritz has a win over current World No. 6 Marin Cilic, who he beat earlier this year at the BNP Paribas Open. The son of Kathy May Fritz, a former WTA Top 10 pro, he was named ATP Star of Tomorrow in 2016 for being the youngest player to finish in Top 100.
Toronto’s Schnur turned pro last year at the Rogers Cup, where he upset then-World No. 98 Ruben Bemelmans in the first round of qualifying. He reached the round of 16 at the Gatineau Challenger, the quarterfinals of the Winnipeg Challenger, and the semifinals of the Granby Challenger – all last month. Coached by 2007 Odlum Brown VanOpen champion Frédéric Niemeyer, the 22-year-old has won a combined nine ATP Challenger Tour and ITF Futures championships.
Born in North Vancouver, Peliwo is the first Canadian male and second Canadian ever to win a Grand Slam in singles with his 2012 Junior Wimbledon win. That same year, Peliwo became the first Canadian player to be named the ITF Junior World Champion. The 23-year-old has 15 career ITF Futures singles and doubles titles. He’s a 12-time ITF Futures finalist this year alone, winning eight titles.
North Vancouver’s Bester returns to play in front of home fans one last time before retiring. The 28-year-old announced last month that the Odlum Brown VanOpen is his last tournament as a pro tennis player. Bester was the first Canadian male to reach a Grand Slam final in singles when he made the finals of the 2006 Junior French Open. A former member of Canada’s Davis Cup team, he also won a silver medal in mixed doubles for Canada at the 2015 Pan-Am Games.
On the women’s side, Carol Zhao of Richmond Hill, Ontario, joins previously announced participants Bianca Andreescu, Katherine Sebov and Aleksandra Wozniak in the women’s main draw for the Odlum Brown VanOpen.
Zhao has won three ITF Pro Circuit doubles titles this year and five in her career. The 22-year-old plays well on home soil, with three of her ITF doubles wins coming in Canadian tournaments. Zhao has four career wins over players ranked World No. 100 or higher when played, including victories over former World No. 12 Yanina Wickmayer, former World No. 22 Irina-Camelia Begu and current World No. 37 Kristyna Pliskova.
Andreescu is currently ranked third among Canadian female singles players. At the Citi Open earlier this month, the 17-year-old defeated Camila Giorgi in the opening round for her first win on the WTA Tour. She upset World No. 13 Kristina Mladenovic in the second round, becoming the first player born in the 2000s to beat a top 20 ranked player. Andreescu won the 2017 Australian Open and French Open junior doubles titles with fellow Canadian Carson Branstine.
Sebov reached the semifinals at three consecutive ITF events to start 2017. She earned her first top-100 win in January against current World No. 68 Varvara Lepchenko at the Dow Tennis Classic. Last month, the 18-year-old from Toronto reached her first professional final at the $60,000 Granby Challenger. She is also a member of Canada’s Fed Cup Team.
A five-time Tennis Canada Female Player of the Year, Wozniak won the Odlum Brown VanOpen women’s title in 2011. The 29-year-old is a former World No. 21 and holds the record for most singles wins in Canadian Fed Cup history. Wozniak won the Gatineau Challenger last month for her first title since 2012. She represented Canada at the 2012 London Olympics and has reached the third round or better at five Grand Slam tournaments in her career.