Canada's Rebecca Marino falls in Rogers Cup qualifying
27-year-old returned to competitive play this season after 5-year absence
The Vancouver native lost 7-5, 6-4, to 53rd-ranked Qiang Wang of China in her second match of the qualifying event at the women's tournament in Montreal on Sunday.
"I'm looking at this as a platform for the rest of the year," said the 27-year-old Marino. "Matches like that give me hope that I can compete at that level again. It gives me a lot of motivation to continue."
Marino was No. 38 in the WTA rankings in the summer of 2011 when she was only 20 years old. But she stepped away from tennis in 2013 due to a battle with depression and mental illness that was further aggravated by cyberbullying and negative social media comments.
Now ranked No. 310, Marino returned to competitive play this season after a five-year absence. Her first matches were in January, playing a handful of small tournaments in Turkey.
Now, seven months later, she's starting to eye Grand Slam qualifiers as the next attainable goal in her comeback.
"I started at $15,000 tournaments, to playing players who had no ranking, to playing a No. 53 in the world, someone who just came off a title in China," said Marino. "That's a steep learning curve. But I feel like I belong on the court with players like that. I just have to remind myself that I belong."
At Montreal's newly named IGA Stadium on Sunday, Marino had her serve broken once in each set and didn't break Wang back.
With Marino serving and the score tied 5-5 in the first set, the Canadian sent her forehand into the net for the break before dropping the deciding game.
Leading 3-2 in the second set, Marino had two chances to break Wang's serve but she failed on both occasions. Wang won the game and went on to win the set.
"When you get up to that level, you have to take those chances," said Marino. "And when you're a player of her calibre, you know how to get back into points.
"I definitely felt like I had that match on my racquet. She didn't necessarily win. I mean, she obviously did, but I helped her win it."
Marino came from behind to beat Vera Lapko of Belarus 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, on Saturday.
Fernandez also falls
Fellow Canadian Leylah Fernandez also failed to qualify for the main draw. The 15-year-old from Montreal lost 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 to Katie Boulter of Great Britain in front of a packed crowd at one of the stadium's much smaller courts.
Fernandez, a semifinalist at this year's junior French Open, defeated Alicja Rosolska of Poland 6-3, 6-2, on Saturday.
"It was a new experience," said Fernandez, describing her weekend. "Not the same as juniors. It was fun. I love how I can see other players here and how they train and how they get ready for their matches. The crowd has been amazing and they helped me from good moments and bad moments and I liked that very much.
"They pumped me up a lot on every point."
With the losses by Marino and Fernandez, that means there are three Canadians in the first round, which begins Monday.
Montreal's Eugenie Bouchard, who's making her 11th appearance at the Rogers Cup, takes on 15th-ranked Elise Mertens of Belgium.
Carol Zhao of Richmond Hill, Ont., will face Kiki Bertens (No. 18) of the Netherlands while Montrealer Francoise Abanda plays against Belgian qualifier Kirsten Flipkens (No. 45).
Bouchard, Zhao and Abanda were all granted a wild card in the main draw.
Alicja Rosolska of Poland 6-3, 6-2, on Saturday.