By Eric Dowdall – The Brock Press
Two weeks ago at the Roger’s Cup, many Canadians had their eyes opened to the growth of Canadian tennis. In actuality, this movement began some time ago, reaching its peak during Canada’s biggest tennis tournament.
For those unaware of what transpired, not one, but two Canadian male tennis players achieved their greatest success in an Associations of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tournament. Milos Raonic (Thornhill, Ontario,) and Vasek Pospisil (Vernon, British Columbia), faced off in the semi-finals of the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Raonic defeated Pospisil in a tough three-set match, but went on to lose to 12-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal in the final. Subsequently following the tournament, both players reached their career-high ATP ranking.
What makes this feat so special is that it took place in an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event. These events are just below the four Grand Slam tournaments —Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open—in terms of importance and ranking points, and all of the top players are required to participate.
While Raonic has four tournament victories to his name, all have come in smaller events. He earned more points toward his ranking with the loss in the final than he did for any of his previous tournament wins. For Pospisil, it was an even bigger breakthrough. Previously unknown to most casual sport fans, he captivated audiences this past week with his performances. In his first match of the week he notched his first ever win against a top-20 player when he beat John Isner. He followed that up two rounds later by defeating Tomas Berdych, the World No.6.
Despite losing a tough three-set match to his friend Raonic, Pospisil jumped from No. 71 in the rankings to No. 40, by far his career high. This breakthrough was huge as he now gets direct entry into all of the big tournaments, instead of having to suffer through the sometimes treacherous qualify rounds.
While these two are at the forefront now, they are not the only Canadians primed to make waves in the world of tennis. In 2012, two Canadian junior tennis players made headlines when they simultaneously won the Junior Wimbledon Championships. Felipe Peliwo won the Junior Boys title, while Eugenie Bouchard won the Junior Girls Championship.
Both these young players have bright futures, as proven by their recent results. Bouchard reached the third round of the ladies’ singles draw at Wimbledon, beating former top-ranked player Ana Ivanovic. Peliwo on the other hand, followed up his Junior Wimbledon title by winning the junior title at the US Open. This past week at the Rogers Cup he played in his first ATP tour event and notched his first win, before losing a close three-set match in the second round.
This youth movement is vaulting Canadian tennis to new heights. Canada is finally a prominent force in tennis, as evidenced by their current semi-final spot in the Davis Cup (tennis’ year-long international completion). With doubles legend Daniel Nestor still going strong, and Raonic and Pospisil leading the charge, Canada is poised to make its mark in tennis for years to come.