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Marino and Fernandez doubles champs in Gatineau

Jul 21, 2019

Both doubles finals were disputed on Saturday at the Gatineau National Bank Challenger.  Leylah Annie Fernandez (Laval, QC) partnered up with compatriot Rebecca Marino (Vancouver, BC). The duo, having previously played together a handful of times, defeated the tournament’s top seeds the day before and were up against the second seeds Marcela Zacarias of Mexico and Chieh-Yu Hsu of Chinese Taipei in the final. Things were going well for the Canadian team towards the end of the opening set, but a bout of rain interrupted play. When the match started up again, Fernandez and Marino picked up where they left off, eventually the match 7-6(5), 6-3. This is the pair’s first title together.

On the men’s side, the third seeds Alex Lawson of the United States and Marc Polmans of Australian captured the title with a 6-4, 3-6, 10-7 victory over Hans Hach Verdugo of Mexico and Dennis Novikov of the United States.

In singles, it will be an all-Canadian final on Sunday.

The first Canadian to reach the final was 19-year-old Carson Branstine (Orange, CA), who had to go through qualifying earlier in the tournament to attain the main draw. She becomes only the second qualifier to reach the women’s final after Ellen Perez did it back in 2017 and would be the first qualifier in history to win the tournament in Gatineau. Standing in her way was no. 7 seed Susan Bandecchi of Switzerland. The players exchanged breaks early in the opening set, before settling down on serve. The Canadian put on a dominant display in the tiebreak, taking the lead in the match. Branstine continued her momentum into the second and eventually took the match by a score of 7-6(2), 6-3.

The second women’s semi-final of the day featured two Canadian players, as Leylah Annie Fernandez (Laval, QC) and Françoise Abanda (Montreal, QC) went head-to-head for the first time in their careers. It was the more experienced Abanda who took the opening set, capitalizing on her chances. In the second, the roles were reversed, as the 16-year-old Fernandez grabbed the early lead and stepped up her level of play. Towards the end of the second, Abanda called for the trainer and would eventually retire from the match with an injury. Fernandez moved into her first professional final thanks to a 3-6, 5-1 ret. victory.

On the men’s side, the tournament’s 15th seed Enzo Couacaud of France booked his spot with his 6-2, 6-4 victory over Darian King of Barbados (no. 12). This will be the Frenchman’s first Challenger final of the year, with his last title dating back to September 2018. On Sunday, he will face the 10th seed Jason Kubler of Australia who defeated Joao Menezes of Brazil by a score of 6-3, 6-1. This will be the first meeting between he two.

The men’s singles final begins at 12 p.m. on Sunday and will be followed by the all-Canadian women’s singles final.

The Gatineau National Bank Challenger is the first of two mixed draw tournaments held in Quebec during the month of July. The tournament will be followed by the Granby National Bank Challenger.