Some tennis pros double as music aficionados, and sometimes they even play music (see Bob and Mike Bryan, or Vasek Pospisil). Now meet another pro performer–not just in the tennis arena, but on the music stage as well. Carol Zhao, a Canadian with a Stanford pedigree (2016 NCAA team championship; 2015 singles finalist) and a penchant for doubles success, harbors some rare gifts among those on the tour.
She strums an acoustic guitar and sings songs, both her own and covers, with a steady, lovely lilt in her voice. Her natural instrument arrived as much more than serviceable on songs such as “Concrete,” which she wrote about life on the global tour.
The song contains so many pensive and artful turns of phrase that it probably does its four-plus minutes an injustice to call out any of them individually.
My life’s spent on this concrete
Inside of these lines that confine my niche
I look around and there’s no one next to me
Only this month I’m onto my fourth city
You simply need to give the full version a listen–or just put it on repeat.
Zhao, a 22-year-old ranked No. 414, certainly knows that of which she speaks, highlighting the realism of life in the sometimes-friendly skies and on the road for all who will hear.
You know you travel a lot when you automatically connect to the Wi-Fi every time you enter an airport ????????♀️????— carolzhao (@CarolZhao95) July 14, 2017
She has found a “niche,” as she perhaps alludes to in “Concrete,” as a player with doubles prowess, winning a few ITF titles in recent years with various partners, and ranking of No. 278..
This week, Zhao is competing in the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California, where she attended university for three years before turning professional just a year ago.
You can take the girl out of Stanford, but she comes back like a boomerang – and it has become quite obvious that you’ll never take the music out of her. Case in point: Her performance of Coldplay’s “Yellow” at a Fed Cup team dinner in 2016, which served as quite the introduction for the rookie.
Advantage: all who will listen.
Follow Jon on Twitter @jonscott9.