Photo: Fred MullaneFrancoise Abanda (CAN)
The ITF Junior Circuit caught up with world No. 9 Francoise Abanda from Canada to find out more about the 15 year-old.
ITF Junior Circuit: Hi Francoise, can you tell us a bit about where you're from?
Francoise Abanda: I’m from Montreal, Canada. My parents are from Cameroon but I was born in Montreal. I’ve never been to Cameroon but I still have a lot of family there and I’d love to go there and see where I come from one day.
Do you have any brothers or sisters?
I have one sister, Elisabeth. She’s 18 and at college. She's also played ITF events.
How did you start playing tennis?
Jean-Claude Lemire introduced me to tennis. I started playing with him at the age of seven with a bunch of other kids. He coached my sister as well. At the age of 12 I started playing with Tennis Canada, going on tours and training at the National Tennis Centre (NTC) in Montreal. Gradually I started with the federation (Tennis Canada), it wasn’t like the next day.
Was your sister playing tennis and you followed her footsteps?
I kind of followed her. I always wanted to do what she was doing!
Do you like any other sports?
Speed-skating. I did it pretty often when I was younger. I was in a group for a year or two.
And what are your hobbies?
I like to go shopping and visit big cities. I’m not so big on nature and the outdoors.
What's your favourite city?
I don’t really have one. I love Montreal, where I live. I also love New York, but not to live. I like Asia too! I don’t really like Europe though - everything is way different there.
Which is your favourite tournament?
The US Open. I’ve never been to Australia but I think I'll play there next year, so we'll see.
Do you have a favourite surface?
Clay would be my least favourite, but I like pretty much everything else. I like grass. It was my first time playing on grass at Wimbledon this year but I think I responded pretty well! I made the semis, which is my biggest achievement so far.
Who’s your tennis idol?
The Williams sisters and Gael Monfils. Gael is very entertaining to watch and he’s always having a good time on court. I liked Venus before when she was 20. I think she was better than she is now. Definitely Serena because she’s just dominating our game now so it’s somebody that I look up to.
How does school work for you?
I study in Montreal and it’s a regular school where I have to go every day so I have to fit my tennis around studying. I can’t study in Toronto where they do online school so I go to a high school. I have to be very organised. At the NTC we have a tutor who helps us so that helps quite a lot. It’s tough though. Sometimes I have to miss practice because of exams. I play tennis every day though. I do two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. In between I go to the classroom to do my school work. I could go to the States to study but it’s different as I’d then be studying in English.
So French is your first language?
Yeah, I speak French and then English.
Is tennis what you want to do full time?
Yep, I’m graduating at 17 years old and then I can do tennis full-time. I’m trying to not get behind at school so I can just get my studying done. I can't do tennis full-time until I've finished school.
What's your ambition in tennis?
To be Top 10 in the WTA rankings and to win a Grand Slam would be my dream.
Which Grand Slam?
The US Open. It’s a lot of fun. New York is outgoing, the crowds are crazy, people are screaming. It’s not like Wimbledon, which is more traditional.
How was the Junior Fed Cup and playing for your country?
It was good. Canada doesn’t have a lot of big tennis superstars so it’s an opportunity to make history in Canada and help other kids to play more tennis. The national sport is ice hockey and tennis isn’t very big. A lot of Canadians are doing well at the moment though which is good for me as it means I have competition all the time. Of course, seeing one of the girls I train with (Eugenie Bouchard) win Wimbledon, it gives you a boost, it's like 'yeah, I can do that!!'