Montreal’s Françoise Abanda rolls in Grand Slam qualifying debut

Wednesday was the first day of a new phase of Françoise Abanda's career, not that her first-ever appearance at a Grand Slam with the grownups seemed to faze her one bit.

The 17-year-old from Montreal made her major-tournament debut in the first round of qualifying at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, New York and came away with a comprehensive 6-1, 6-1 victory over Andreea Mitu of Romania.

Abanda has been to the U.S. Open before (below, as a 14-year-old in 2011, she defeated older, hotshot American Madison Keys in straight sets). But this is the first time she's playing in the main event. She plans to make the junior event in New York the final one before she goes pro on a full-time basis.

Abanda is at all-time ranking highs of No. 205 (singles) and No. 203 (doubles) and that singles ranking was enough to get her into the qualifying of a Grand Slam for the first time.

So far, she's taking advantage.

Mitu, who turns 23 next month, is close to her career best at No. 167. She has 10 singles and eight doubles titles on the minor-league ITF circuit and so knows how to win matches at that level, but is still making her way at the top level.

She has, however, played the qualifying at each of the four Grand Slams twice, successfully making the main draw for the first time at Wimbledon last month (she lost to Agnieszka Radwanska in the first round).

So there was a fairly big gulf in their experience. Apparently, that didn't matter a bit.

Abanda will play Nao Hibino of Japan in the second round. which is a surprise. Hibino, 19 and ranked lower than Abanda at No. 214, upset No. 7 qualifying seed Anna Tatishvili, a native of Georgia who was making her first U.S. Open appearance as an American citizen in the first round

It's more than a fair fight.

Another Canadian, Heidi el Tabakh, also survived the first round. She served for the match against American Samantha Crawford at 5-3 in the second set, unsuccessfully, but finally prevailed 7-6 (1), 6-7 (5), 6-2 to move into the second round. She'll face Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine Thursday.

Richmond Hill, Ont's Peter Polansky, who win his first-round match Tuesday, will play Miloslav Mecir (son of the great Slovak player of the early 90s) in the second round of men's qualifying.