Photo: Joe Ng
All the talk about it being a blazing autumn is about more than the fall colours, since it also applies to Canada’s tennis elite.
As Félix Auger-Aliassime closes out his season at the ATP Finals, our Canadian women take the stage at Billie Jean King Cup in Glasgow, Scotland, and on our screens back at home very, very early in the morning.
The 12 finalist nations (minus the banned Russian champions) are divided into four groups, with Canada in a trio with Italy and Switzerland.
“The best team since I’ve been captain,” said Sylvain Bruneau, who’s back on temporary duty while Heidi El Tabakh is away.
Tennis fans have gotten to know Sylvain pretty well over the years, and he’s definitely not one to get carried away too quickly.
Except that, on this very rare occasion, all the big names are healthy, including No.40 Leylah Fernandez and No.45 Bianca Andreescu. Competing alongside them are Gabriela Dabrowski (No.6 in doubles), Rebecca Marino and Carol Zhao.
So, what should you expect?
Italy’s No.1 Martina Trevisan is No.28 on paper. She’ll be in Glasgow with teammates ranked No.70 and lower.
As far as Switzerland, things are a bit dicier. On the squad are No. 12 Belinda Bencic and No.35 Jill Teichmann. Still, Leylah leads 2-1 against Bencic, whom she defeated 6-2, 7-6 in Switzerland in 2020, before the pandemic, when the competition was still Fed Cup.
According to Sylvain Bruneau, anything’s possible!
Another Italian challenge
As the No.6 in the very select group of eight who will compete at the Nitto ATP Finals starting this Sunday, Félix Auger-Aliassime won’t be the only tennis player from Québec in Italy this November.
Sébastien Jacques will be there, too.
In late November, the general manager of the Mount Royal Tennis Club founded in 1907 will be crossing the country on foot.
The Magog native was a junior champion and NCAA scholarship holder at Virginia Tech before the terrible news came down: a massive brain tumour that required complicated surgery.
Before the surgery, he couldn’t even walk for more than 15 minutes, much less play tennis.
In Italy, he’ll complete the equivalent of 45 to 47 marathons in 50 days.
It’s a challenge he’s familiar with. To raise money to pay for the surgery he underwent in California, he’s already covered 5,000 kilometers across the US with a rollator.
He wrote a book with a preface by actress Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse, Osez avancer à travers la maladie et les défis, that was translated into Italian.
70,000 extra hours in Calgary
That’s the number of tennis hours (competition and practice) that Calgary will gain every year thanks to the new Osten & Victor Alberta Tennis Centre (five courts under a bubble) funded through the Year-Round Community Tennis Court Program presented by Rogers.
Another figure that should interest our cities is the estimated economic benefits: $10M.
Municipal officials who want more info should contact Eugène Lapierre in his new role at Tennis Canada.
The inaugural event at the Osten & Victor Alberta Tennis Centre is the combined men’s (ATP) and women’s (ITF) National Bank Challenger.
Next week, the Challenger circuit heads to Drummondville as Vasek Pospisil, Alexis Galarneau and Gabriel Diallo get one more competition in before Davis Cup the following week.