Stanford freshman Carol Zhao was honored as the 2013 Junior Player of the Year, as announced by Tennis Canada.
Zhao was selected for the award along with North Carolina freshman Brayden Schur (Pickering, Ontario). Both players are members of Tennis Canada's full-time National Training Centre in Montreal, making their marks on both the junior and professional circuits in their final year as junior competitors.
A native of Richmond Hill, Ontario, Zhao became just the ninth Canadian to win a junior Slam title by clinching the Junior Australian Open doubles crown with Croatian partner Ana Konjuh. Reaching a career-high ITF junior ranking of world No. 9, Zhao also won the doubles title at the prestigious Grade 1 ITF tournament in Roehampton with Czech Barbora Krejcikova.
On the professional level, Zhao reached her first singles final at the $10K ITF Pro Circuit event in Santa Margherita Di Pula, Italy in May and later won her first pro doubles trophy at the $25K Granby Challenger in July with American Lena Litvak. At Rogers Cup presented by National Bank in Toronto, Zhao -- ranked No. 536 in the world on the pro circuit at the time -- received a qualifying wild card and picked up two victories, including over world No. 75 Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania, to play in her first WTA main draw.
Zhao has continued that success in her rookie season on The Farm, compiling a 21-3 overall record and 14-0 mark in duals. Holding down the No. 3 spot in the singles lineup and ranked No. 22 nationally, Zhao has been Stanford's hottest player as of late, winning 14 consecutive matches with her last loss coming back in mid-January. In doubles, Zhao and Kristie Ahn are ranked No. 7 nationally and own team-best records of 24-2 (overall) and 14-0 (duals) while winning 17 in a row.
The Tennis Canada Excellence Awards were introduced in 1982 and are presented annually to the country's top tennis players, coaches, officials, communities, and administrators in recognition of their outstanding contributions made to Canadian tennis.