The National Bank Cup presented by IGA wrapped a few days ago so it’s time to look back on a 26th edition that was filled with surprises that no one could have expected.
Four of the tournament’s top eight seeds didn’t make it out of the first round, including top seed and world no. 20 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus. While the 20-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough summer hard court season these past weeks, the 20-year-old was upset in the opening round by American Varvara Lepchenko 6-4, 7-6(5). “Varvara has all of my respect, she played a great match, she was hitting all of her shots well,” Sabalenka said. Monica Niculescu, Lucie Safarova, and Tatjana Maria also lost in the first round.
The Canadians shine
In fact, it was Canadian Rebecca Marino who knocked out Maria. Playing the National Bank Cup for the first time following her five-year hiatus from the sport, the Vancouver native won the first WTA match of her comeback 6-2, 6-2. Marino went on to reach the quarter-finals where she fell to Brit Heather Watson in a tightly contested encounter.
For her part, Françoise Abanda won her opener 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 against Tereza Martincova and lost in round two to eventual semifinalist, fifth-seeded American Sofia Kenin 6-4, 6-4 despite battling an injury. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Leylah Fernandez won the first WTA match of her career thanks to a 6-3, 7-5 victory over her compatriot Gabriela Dabrowski in the first round.
Pegula, from qualifier to finalist
Qualifier Jessica Pegula, a regular competitor in the Quebec City event, was the Cinderella story of the week after defeating seeds Petra Martic (no. 2) and Sofia Kenin (no. 5) en route to reaching her maiden WTA final.
Parmentier goes all the way
Pauline Parmentier of France took advantage of the early seeds exodus to lift the singles trophy on Sunday afternoon. Seeded eighth in the draw, the Frenchwoman earned wins over Kudermetova, McHale, Lepchenko, and Watson before facing off against Pegula in the championship match. In the end, Parmentier, who won her first WTA title ten years ago and was a crowd favourite at the PEPS, defeated her American opponent 7-5, 6-2 in the final.
“It’s crazy! It’s been 10 years since I won a tournament and this year I’ve won two, I can’t believe it. When I won the title in Istanbul (in April), it was very emotional, but here it’s really great. I am so happy that an amazing week ended with a title. I couldn’t have asked for better,” Parmentier said following her triumph. Thanks to her victory in Quebec City, Parmentier saw her ranking improve to no. 48 in the world on Monday.
Although the sympathetic Parmentier has been contemplating retirement, let’s hope that she returns next year to defend her National Bank Cup crown. Tennis fans in Quebec City will certainly be happy to see her again!