Photo: Audric Gagnon
With Wimbledon all wrapped up, the US Open is right around the corner. The season is going full steam ahead with a tonne of good news as international tennis returns to Canada.
At full capacity for the first time since 2019, the National Bank Open in Montréal promises to be a blockbuster. The entire field is expected at IGA Stadium from August 5 to 14, minus an unvaccinated Novak Djokovic and a seriously injured Alexander Zverev.
It’s the same happy situation in Toronto, where absolute legends Venus and Serena Williams are in the mix—a rare occurrence outside the Slams.
The eminent Eugène Lapierre, vice-president of professional tennis at Tennis Canada and tournament director in Montréal, said World No.1 and reigning NBO champion Daniil Medvedev personally phoned him for help securing a travel visa for his wife Daria, who wants to be with him in Montréal. Team Nadal asked for a case of official tournament balls so Rafa can start prepping at his academy in Mallorca.
It’s a lot less complicated to ship balls than deal with federal authorities, but there’s still time.
Mayor Julie Bourdon is all in
Montréal and Toronto aren’t the only cities with good news: Granby is also making headlines for all the right reasons.
Bigger and brighter than ever, the Granby National Bank Championships may only get rolling on August 20, but Alain Faucher’s organization hit a major home run when Mayor Julie Bourdon agreed to serve as the tournament’s honorary chair.
“Granby’s support is essential in terms of funding and especially in terms of its involvement. And who better than the mayor? She’s among the brilliant young women working to address citizen concerns,” said Eugène Lapierre.
Enthusiasm and realism
For Granby, the challenge is twofold.
In addition to the men’s Challenger inaugurated in 1995 and concurrent ITF women’s event, Granby has been granted a WTA 250 tournament and joins the ranks of cities like Melbourne, Auckland, Istanbul, Bogota, Osaka and Prague.
During the week of the women’s competition, Granby will be a window on the world with matches broadcast globally.
Quoted in La Voix de l’Est newspaper by Michel Tassé, Julie Bourdon said: “The city has been involved since the very beginning and will continue to be. I’ll be there, and I’m looking forward to it. The WTA has requirements we must meet, so we’re focused on growth. That said, it isn’t only up to the city to invest, it’s also up to the other levels of government.”
To give you an idea, the tournament has grown so much that the locker rooms were moved to a neighbouring church basement.
Rest assured the message has been delivered, since Mayor Bourdon made the most of the tournament press conference to speak with François Bonnardel, Member of the National Assembly of Québec for Granby, as well as Andréanne Larouche, Member of Parliament for Shefford, and municipal councillor François Lemay, who oversees sports-related issues in Granby.
HARD AT WORK
Retired lawyer Alain Faucher, chair of the organizing committee of the Granby tournament, has been hard at work.
Appointing Julie Bourdon was his idea after leading the initiative to secure the WTA 250.
“Honorary chair is an important role. I’m convinced she’ll excel,” he said proudly. “I like what she’s doing for the city and I’m looking forward to working with her.”
Heard around the courts
With the countdown well underway in Québec, Winnipeg kicked off the National Bank Challenger from July 25 to 31.
No.139 Vasek Pospisil will be in action. And so will Montrealer Jaden Weekes, who’s currently No.22 on the junior circuit. Fully recovered from the COVID-19 he caught at Wimbledon, coach Martin Laurendeau will be in Weekes’ player box.
Mardy Fish, who was a finalist in Montréal in 2011, has officially moved on to golf. He made his PGA Tour debut at the 3M Open this week.