Photo : Imar McEwan/Tennis Canada
“The most complicated part wasn’t the countless hours the team worked, it was the uncertainty we faced because we didn’t know how things would pan out.”
Finally able to breathe a sigh of relief after Health Canada approved Tennis Canada’s protocol for the National Bank Open presented by Rogers from August 7 to 15, Eugène Lapierre isn’t hiding his satisfaction.
Provincial and municipal authorities had already given the go-ahead, and the green light from the federal government to host the women of the WTA in Montréal (and the men of the ATP in Toronto) came on Monday.
Last year’s cancellation of the sadly missed tournament means that the last point on Centre Court at IGA Stadium was scored on August 11, 2019.
Anyone remember who secured championship point?
August 2019 isn’t exactly yesterday. While you’re thinking back, here’s more from Eugène Lapierre.
Tennis Canada invested A LOT of hours to develop plans A, B, C and, really, the entire alphabet for every possible situation before the magic number of 5,000 people per session appeared.
“For the team, the most difficult thing was not being able to plan anything—or so few things—because we just didn’t know,” he explained.
Twelve. That’s the number of days between Health Canada’s approval and the draw: a record! How about a quick Q&A with the tournament director to bring you up to speed?
Question: Will the site be ready even though there isn’t much time left?
Eugène Lapierre: We’re not behind schedule, but we have to get going, especially to welcome ticket holders on Centre Court.
Q: A lot of the top seeds are already out of Tokyo. Will they be arriving here early?
E.L.: The WTA recommends we start welcoming players next Tuesday and give them court access. Our Canadian players (Bianca Andreescu and Leylah Fernandez) have already made requests, and we’re expecting more.
Q: Anything new on site?
E.L.: There’s more space for players to make things feel more normal, even in the bubble.
Q: A comment on Ashleigh Barty’s withdrawal?
E.L.: Montréal will host nine of the Top 10, and former World No.1 and champion in Montréal Simona Halep says she’s ready to play.
Q: An important question considering the revenues fund the sport, how are ticket sales?
E.L.: They’re good. We’re working with 50% capacity (5,000 on Centre Court) because of social distancing rules, so crowds will be half the size. And yes, tickets are still available.
The last winning point in Montréal went to Rafa Nadal, who defeated Daniil Medvedev (6-3, 6-0) to raise the champion’s trophy.