CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia women’s tennis team will welcome a trio of newcomers for the 2020-21 season with the addition of Emma Navarro (Charleston, S.C.), Hibah Shaikh (Teaneck, N.J.) and transfer Carson Branstine (Irvine, Calif.), it was announced by head coach Sara O’Leary on Tuesday (May 12).
Navarro reached a career-high of No. 3 in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior rankings, while Branstine reached a career-high of No. 4 and Shaikh reached a career-high ranking of No. 103.
“We are thrilled to welcome Emma, Hibah and Carson to the University of Virginia,” said Virginia head coach Sara O’Leary. “The three of them bring tremendous experience on the biggest stages of the sport. Their drive and commitment on the court is matched by their character and success in the classroom. Seeing how they strive for excellence in all aspects of their lives made it clear to us that they will be a perfect fit at UVA.”
Navarro, currently ranked the No.1 recruit in the nation by TennisRecruiting.net, recently went three sets at the Abierto GNP Seguros with American professional Sloane Stephens, who currently holds a world professional ranking of No. 37. In 2019, Navarro competed in all four junior grand slams, reaching the singles semifinals at the Wimbledon Junior Championships, and the finals at the French Open Junior Championships. In doubles, she and her partner won the 2019 French Open Junior Championship, reached the finals at the Australian Open Junior Championships and reached the quarterfinals at the Wimbledon Junior Championships. Navarro is a blue-chip recruit by TennisRecruiting.net and finished 2019 ranked as the No. 3 junior singles player in the world.
Shaikh reached a career-high ITF junior ranking of No. 103. She was a singles semifinalist at the 2020 ITF J2 Valencia Junior Open and advanced to the third round in singles at the 2019 JA Orange Bowl in Plantation, Fla. She also competed in the qualifying draws at the 2020 Australian Open and 2019 US Open Junior Championships. She reached the final rounds of multiple ITF Junior Doubles and Singles Championships. Shaikh is a blue-chip recruit by TennisRecruiting.net.
Branstine was ranked second in the ITA Freshman/Newcomer rankings before taking a redshirt season at the University of Southern California. She has reached a career-high world junior ranking of No. 4. Branstine has also competed in each of the four Junior Grand Slams. In 2017, she and her partner claimed the doubles title at the Australian Open and French Open Junior Championships. She claimed four ITF junior singles titles and five ITF junior doubles titles in her career. Branstine also was a finalist at the 2019 $25k Gatineau, Canada pro event and the $15k Carson, Calif., pro event.
The trio joins a group of five returning players who helped the Cavaliers finish the year as the No. 11 team in the ITA Women’s Team rankings, with a season-high ranking of No. 9. The squad posted wins over six top-25 opponents in 2020 on the way to a 10-5 record before the season was cut short. Virginia also won the ITA Kickoff regional hosted by the University of Kansas to advance to the ITA National Fall Championships for the first time since the 2016 season.
2020-21 VIRGINIA WOMEN’S TENNIS NEWCOMERS
Emma Navarro – Charleston, S.C.
• Ranked No. 1 recruit by TennisRecruiting.net as a blue-chip recruit
• Also ranked No. 1 in TennisRPI
• Career-high WTA ranking of No. 412 in the world in singles and No. 375 in doubles
• Finished 2019 as the No. 3 junior singles player in the world
• Singles semifinalist at the 2019 Junior Wimbledon Championships
• Singles finalist at the 2019 French Open Junior Championships
• Advanced to the third round at the 2019 Australian Open Junior Championship in singles
• Singles champion at the 2019 Adidas Easter Bowl in Indian Wells, Calif.
• Singles finalist at the 2019 USTA Girls 18’s Nationals in San Diego, Calif. which earned her a wildcard into
the 2019 US Open Women’s Singles qualifying draw
• Singles semifinalist at the 2018 Orange Bowl Championship
• 2019 singles semifinalist at the 2019 Women’s $100,000 professional event in Charleston, S.C.
• Doubles champion at the 2019 French Open Junior Championships
• Doubles finalist at the 2019 Australian Open Junior Championships
• Doubles champion at the 2019 Easter Bowl in Indian Wells, Calif.
• Doubles quarterfinalist at the 2019 Wimbledon Junior Championships
• Doubles semifinalist at the 2018 US Open Junior Championships
• Singles and doubles champion at the 2018 USTA Girls 18’s National Clay Court Championships in
• Singles champion at the 2017 USTA Girls 16’s Easter Bowl in Indian Wells, Calif.
• Singles Champion at the J2 U18 Canada World Ranking Event in Montreal
Hibah Shaikh – Teaneck, N.J.
• Currently nationally ranked No. 15 recruit by TennisRecruiting.net as a blue-chip recruit. Has been ranked as high as no. 7 in 2019.
• Reached a career-high ITF junior ranking of No. 103
• Singles semifinalist at the 2020 ITF J2 Valencia Junior Championship
• Competed in the singles qualifying draw at the 2020 Australian Open and the 2019 US Open Junior
• Singles quarterfinalist at the 2019 J1 Mundial Juvenil Cancun
• Advanced to the singles third round of the 2019 JA Orange Bowl in Plantation, Fla.
• Competed in the singles main draw at the 2018 ITF $25K in Bethany Beach, Del.
• Doubles quarterfinals at the 2020 JA Banana Bowl in Criciuma, Brazil
• Doubles finalist at the 2019 Grade 1 Coffee Bowl in Costa Rica
• Doubles quarterfinalist at the 2019 Grade 1 Eddie Herr Championships in Bradenton, Fla.
Carson Branstine – Irvine, Calif.
• Ranked No. 2 freshman/newcomer nationally in the ITA rankings last fall as a freshman at USC
• Ranked as high as No. 4 junior player in the world in the ITF rankings prior to beginning her collegiate career
• Doubles champion at the 2017 Australian Open Junior Championships and French Open Junior Championships
• Singles quarterfinalist at 2017 Wimbledon Junior Championships and 2016 US Open Junior Championships
• Claimed four ITF junior singles titles and five ITF junior doubles titles including both the singles and
doubles titles at the 2017 International Spring Championships in Carson, Calif.
• Qualified for the 2017 and 2018 Rogers Cup
• Finalist at the 2019 $25k Gatineau, Canada Pro Event
• Finalist at the 2019 $15k Carson, CA Pro Event
• Doubles champion at the 2018 $25K Pro Circuit Gatineau, Canada
• Doubles finalist at the 2017 Quebec Premier International Tournament
• Career high WTA ranking of No. 468 in singles and No. 203 in doubles