The Rise of Canadian Tennis

Let’s face it. The climate in Canada has by no means been conducive to taking part in tennis open air. As a child, I waited patiently for the snow to soften off the out of doors rink that doubled as a tennis court docket every spring. I’d usually deliver a shovel with me to clear an area beside the court docket the place there was a hitting wall with a line painted on it to symbolize the peak of the web simply so I might get a bounce begin on the season. I dreamed of taking part in towards McEnroe and my idol Lendl and the one individual near a Canadian tennis participant value cheering for was our native tennis professional who would generally come out to hit with me (in all probability when he  was uninterested in having me hangout within the clubhouse watching tennis on TV).

Children are the identical at present. In the event that they’re not into hockey or
snowboarding and love selecting up a racquet, they’re open air at those self same out of doors
rinks or tennis courts ready for the snow to soften to allow them to faux to be
their favorite tennis stars. The distinction at present is that they don’t must
look as much as the celebs from one other nation. They will now faux to be their
idols from proper right here in Canada.

Tennis in Canada has taken off dramatically over the previous
decade. All of it started with the rise of famous person Milos Raonic in 2011 when he
made all of it the best way to the fourth spherical of the Australian Open as a qualifier.
Along with his monster serve (solely bettered by John Isner when it comes to velocity) Raonic
shortly shot up the rankings to succeed in as excessive as quantity 3 on this planet in 2016.
His win at Wimbledon within the semi-finals that yr over arguably the world’s
greatest male tennis participant of all time Roger Federer was the stuff of legends for
Canadian tennis followers and was solely prevented from claiming essentially the most coveted
prize in tennis by Andy Murray within the finals.

To not be outdone by her male counterpart, Genie Bouchard had a breakout season in 2014 the place she reached the semi-finals at each the Australian and French Open earlier than making all of it the best way to the finals at Wimbledon. I nonetheless keep in mind that sport as we held a “Breakfast at Wimbledon” occasion on the Lodge MacDonald early that Sunday morning solely to look at Genie lose in straight units to Petra Kvitová. Sadly for Genie, she hasn’t been capable of recapture her play from 2014 falling out of the highest 50.

The perfect half for Canadian tennis followers has not been merely having
gamers from Canada to cheer for. It’s additionally been in regards to the consideration tennis has
lastly obtained within the nation. In file numbers, Canadian youngsters are taking part in
tennis — and the rise in participation charges simply occurs to coincide with
breakthrough performances by Raonic and Bouchard on the world stage.

In line with Tennis Canada, 161,000 girls and boys below the
age of 12 performed tennis on a frequent foundation in 2016 — that means at the very least as soon as a
week over an eight-week season. That quantity represents an 8% improve from 2015
and a 23% bounce from 2014.

“It’s additionally globally a golden period of tennis with Serena
Williams hitting milestones — Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy
Murray, Maria Sharapova,” says Hatem McDadi, senior vice-president of tennis
improvement for Tennis Canada. “There’s been super pleasure on the
highest degree and curiosity within the sport. And that’s translated to households and
youngsters on the grassroots.”

Growth {dollars} from company sponsorship and
authorities funding has helped many of those younger gamers develop their
potential at house. A brand new crop of gamers is beginning to make a reputation for
themselves proving that tennis is right here to remain in Canada and that Raonic and
Bouchard weren’t one hit wonders.

Dennis Shapovalov was the primary group of younger stars to observe within the footsteps of Raonic and this younger participant has all of the expertise wanted to be inside the highest 10. His model of play is paying homage to Andre Agassi with an all-out angle and risk-taking sport play that makes his matches thrilling to look at. Edmontonians have been lucky to catch a glimpse of this star on the Davis Cup matches towards India in 2018 when he had but to crack the highest 50 after which shot up the rankings earlier than some mediocre play and accidents dropped him again down the rankings. Hopefully 2024 will probably be one other breakout yr for him.

“Denis really captured the hearts of Canadian sports activities followers
this yr, and it has been a pleasure to look at him develop right into a budding star,” stated
Michael Downey, president and CEO, Tennis Canada. “He has the spirit, want,
and work ethic to be among the many elite athletes in our sport and we glance ahead
to seeing what’s subsequent for him.”

Félix Auger-Aliassime is only a yr youthful than Shapovalov and poised to do as effectively, if not higher than his compatriot. Auger-Aliassime has loads of improvement nonetheless forward of him and you may nonetheless see this in his play but when 2022 is any indication of the place his play goes, it’s wanting like will probably be a terrific profession for him. He completed within the high 10 that yr for him earlier than having a poor displaying in 2023.

In all probability essentially the most stunning has been the play of Bianca Andreescu. Maybe it’s because of the shadow forged by all the eye on the play of Bouchard over the previous 4 years (each good and dangerous) nevertheless it has been a blessing in disguise for Bianca. With out the highlight and stress to carry out by the followers and the media, she has been capable of develop her play taking pictures as much as quantity 6 on this planet after successful the Indian Wells event in March after which following that up with the Nationwide Financial institution open in Toronto and capping off an incredible yr with a US Open victory in September.

Leylah Annie Fernandez is the most recent tennis sensation and a breakout star on this planet of Canadian sports activities. Fernandez’s journey to the highest echelons of tennis started at a younger age, displaying an distinctive expertise that shortly caught the eye of tennis fanatics and professionals alike. Her spectacular performances continued to show heads, and in 2021, Leylah made historical past by reaching the ultimate of the US Open at simply 19 years previous. Although she narrowly missed the title, her fearless and dynamic model of play left an indelible mark on the tennis world. This yr she helped lead the Canadian group to victory within the Billie Jean King Cup.

Like Gretzky for my technology and McDavid of todays, most
of us won’t ever attain the identical  ability
degree that they’ve. The identical may be stated of gamers like Raonic for at present’s
tennis plating youth, however he serves as a task mannequin for any Canadian child with a
dream of taking part in tennis.

The longer term seems to be vibrant Canada.

By TJ Sadler

Photograph courtesy of BNP Paribas Open