Photo: Patrice Lapointe / Tennis Canada
The return of the National Bank Open presented by Rogers made us realize once again how important international tennis is here, in Montréal. On the list of the event’s admirers is John Beddington, our city’s very first tournament director.
A conversation with him—long-time close advisor to big names like Bjorn Borg, Chris Evert, Evonne Goolagong, John Newcombe and others as the former VP of racquet sports at IMG—always provides an interesting perspective on the tournament, which was launched in 1980.
“When Tennis Canada approached Paul Paré, then chairman of Imasco, about sponsoring the Canadian championships in Toronto, Paré set two conditions. The first was to add an event of the same importance in Montréal, and the second was to hire a professional to organize both tournaments, preferably someone from IMG, which had close ties with Imasco. Our chairman Mark McCormack offered me the position. At the time, I was the director of several Grand Prix in Europe, including the year-end Masters,” explained Beddington.
Why Jarry Stadium, which was falling to pieces and already abandoned by the Expos? The idea came during a storm.
“We took shelter under the roof, which, by the way, was leaking. As I waited for the storm to subside, I saw what would become Centre Court.”
There are a bunch of anecdotes like those. We’ll get back to them.
Even after handing over the reins to Richard Legendre, who then handed them to Eugène Lapierre, John Beddington has always kept Montréal in his heart.
“I’ve been involved in leading and overseeing about 150 tournaments around the world, and the one in Montréal remains my favourite for a variety of reasons, including the city’s beauty and the enduring friendships I created there. In 1980, no one would have guessed that the tournament would become the one-week event that attracts more spectators than any other in tennis,” John Beddington proudly affirmed.
What do our two 2021 champions, Camila Giorgi of Italy (Montréal) and Daniil Medvedev (Toronto), have in common? Read on for the answer.
tough road for Bouchard
Eugenie Bouchard deserves great scores across the board for her sportscasting debut on Tennis Channel and Sportsnet.
“I had my own challenges with mental health but, back then, you weren’t allowed to talk about those things,” she revealed.
But she’s not ready to hang up her racquet just yet.
“Watching the matches makes me want to come back even more, as soon as possible!” said Genie.
POP QUIZ: AND THE ANSWER IS…
Camila Giorgi and Daniil Medvedev are Francophiles.
When asked about her mastery of French, Camila Giorgi said how much she loves Paris and its museums. She even studied in France and earned a diploma by correspondence. She also revealed that she goes back to France twice a year to visit friends. When they go out, they always speak French.
As for Medvedev, he got his game up to par in France and speaks French remarkably well.
“My behaviour today was not professional. I want to apologize for this. P.S.: Sorry for that handshake. I just completely lost my mind in that moment,” wrote Aryna Sabalenka in an Instagram story after crashing out of the semis of the National Bank Open. She was so angry after the loss that threw her racquet and barely acknowledged Karolina Pliskova at the net.