As she racks up the frequent flyer miles, Rosie Johanson‘s tennis career is likewise taking off.
The 14-year-old Abbotsford resident has spent much of 2013 zipping around the Western hemisphere, picking up a series of impressive results along the way.
In February, Johanson joined a group of local players and coaches on a jaunt to Central America for a trio of International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior tournaments. Since she had no ITF points to her credit going in, she had to qualify for the main draw at each stop.
In Jalisco, Mexico, Johanson won her qualifying matches and made an impressive run to the semifinals. After failing to qualify at the second tourney, in El Salvador, she regrouped in impressive fashion, wrapping up the trip by winning her first career ITF title in Guatemala.
“I was surprised, for sure,” Johanson said following a recent training session at Great West Fitness, reflecting on her international success. “I just relaxed and went in not expecting much. I guess that helped. I was playing loose.”
In recent months, Johanson been piling up the victories domestically. Seeded fifth at the U16 national championships in Montreal in March, she knocked off the top two seeds en route to the title. The following week, she finished second at U18 nationals in Markham, Ont.
In April she made it as far as the semifinals of an ITF tourney in Burlington, Ont., and in May she won four of six matches to help the Canadian junior women’s team finish second in its group at a Junior Fed Cup event in Montreal.
It’s all been quite a whirlwind for the Abbotsford youngster, and her successful run yielded an invitation to move to Montreal to join Tennis Canada’s national training centre. She’ll make that move in the fall.
“The thought of her going away is difficult,” acknowledged Sarah Johanson, Rosie’s mom. “But she’s matured a lot in the last 12 months, with the travel and the intensity of the training.
“We’ve been there a few times to see the place and meet the family she’s going to be living with (in Montreal). They’re very nice, but of course it’s a different environment, and it will be very intense (tennis-wise) . . . It’s a very focused program. They do a lot more travel.”
Johanson, a Grade 9 student who takes her classes online through the Abbotsford School District to facilitate her travel and training schedule, expressed both excitement and nervousness at the prospect of moving across the country to ignite her tennis career. It’s her dream to play professionally, though, so she’s eager to embrace the challenge.
“It’s crazy, but it’s going to be good,” she said with a smile. “I’m looking forward to it.”