The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Brisebois: Keeping the flame alive 

October 2, 2021
Challenger de Drummondville 2020

Photo : Sarah-Jade Champagne

Tennis is very much about patience at the moment.

Just as it did last spring and summer, the pandemic has forced Tennis Canada to cancel more tournaments in its fall schedule.

The worst hit is Québec, where two National Bank Challenger events were cut.

The Saguenay Challenger—a tradition in the region—is postponed. The Drummondville Challenger has been delayed for the second time in just a few months.

NO TOURNAMENT, LOTS OF WORK

Alain Faucher, volunteer president and CEO of the Granby Challenger, understands the challenges that come with cancellation.

Two years ago, he had to postpone the tournament’s 25th anniversary edition.

He sympathises with his fellow tournament directors.

“It’s a big job,” Faucher says as he rifles through files.

Alain Faucher et Louis Borfiga
Alain Faucher (à gauche) et Louis Borfiga (à droite) – Photo : GranbyExpress-Éric Patenaude

But even without any tennis on the horizon, he still hasn’t found the time to polish his swing.

“I make and take calls every day,” he affirms. “The Challenger is an organization of 300 volunteers, plus the sponsors and partners. We could send out an email to everyone, but we choose to call all our people to make it more personal.”

And Faucher is happy to do it.

“It’s very important to keep the flame alive and our people together if we want to move forward and start off on the right foot.”

DELAYING THE FUTURE

The human side of things is critical, but so is the business side.

Granby is a great example.

Beside the infrastructure, which suffered some damage over the winter, there’s a pending long-term contract with the municipality—a huge ten-year commitment. Also in the works is another major project.

Granby will benefit from the visibility. Eugenie Bouchard, Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil learned the ropes in Granby. So did Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov and, more recently, Leylah Fernandez.

“Without tennis last summer, nothing progressed, and things won’t start moving any time soon with the municipal elections. Nothing will happen before November, since there will be a new mayor and everyone will be talking about the budget,” Faucher explains.

Despite the setbacks, the CEO is staying positive.

“I’ve always been a great optimist, and I have faith there will be tennis in Granby,” he concludes.

That’s exactly what Saguenay and Drummondville are hoping for, too. And so is Repentigny, which just wrapped up the lighter format of its time-honoured junior championship.

The ‘Spos!

Ex-expos at IGA Stadium
Photo: Tennis Canada

It was in the last week of September 1976 (September 26, to be exact) that the Montréal Expos played their last game at Stade Jarry, four years before tennis moved in.

So, I’d like to salute former player and broadcaster Claude Raymond, who’s still going strong at 84 years old, though I must admit that former Expos like Coco Laboy, John Boccabellllllllla and Mack Jones (to name only a few) wouldn’t recognize the stadium today, except for the pool just off right field that’s still making waves.

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