When Isabella Baston was making her run for OFSAA gold in girls’ tennis June 2–4 at York University, fellow Romanian Simona Halep was making a strong push for her first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros.
It’s a small detail the Forest Hill CI athlete of the year shared while chatting about her tennis pursuit, and three bronze medals during her four years at the school.
Halep would lose in the French Open final to Maria Sharapova.
And Baston had her share of agony in defeat, losing her second match to Toronto Prep student Madison Politsky.
“I was really not expecting to lose that game,” Baston said. “I was really mad at myself, and I was, ‘Oh man, here we go again’, because I know when you lose one game you have to play a lot more than all of the others.
“The pressure is on you because if you lose you’re out.”
Baston used her loss to push through seven more matches, including three tie-breakers, one in the bronze medal bout against Jules Johnson of Oakridge SS in London.
That last match showed her coach, Ed Ketchum, just how driven Baston was.
“She was down in the final for the bronze, she was down 4-2, then 5-3, and then she went ahead 6-5 … She was down 6-2 in the tie-breaker and battled back with six unanswered points, which was probably the most exciting part of just her determination to come from behind and not give up,” he said. “It was pretty impressive. She showed a lot of tenacity and perseverance.”
Baston came to Canada in 2009 from the Danube River community of Galati with her sister Lorena and parents Daniel and Lara.
She left behind a professional career in tennis, where she was ranked in the top 25 of the country.
“When I came to Canada I had to stop playing because it was really far and I had to concentrate more on school,” she said. “I was in Grade 8, so the higher the grade the more the pressure, so I couldn’t afford to do both.”
Her tennis dreams were renewed when she realized Forest Hill CI had tennis courts.
It was at the school where she honed her baseline, power-hitting style, and continued to look up to her idols, Ana Ivanovic and Roger Federer.
Success has returned to Baston, and she hopes to continue that trend when she heads to the Schulich School for Business at York University in the fall.
As for tennis, she’ll definitely keep that going since York is home to the Rexall Centre.
“The thing I’m most happy about is York has tennis courts, so I can follow up with my tennis in university, and play,” she said.