Original title : Outstanding Canadian athletes
Photos : Tennis Canada
The anticipation is on to resume playing in the world of tennis, a sport in which outstanding Canadian athletes generated so much excitement in 2019. Bianca Andreescu’s triumph over Serena Williams at the US Open—the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title—is evidence of our nation’s unparalleled homegrown talent.
Denis Shapovalov took his first ATP title at the Stockholm Open; Quebec’s very own Félix Auger-Aliassime jumped in the rankings from 106th to 21st and competed in three finals—at the age of 19! Together, Andreescu, Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime accumulated 58 wins against players from among the 50 top-ranked players in the world. As further proof of the depth of Tennis Canada prowess, 16-year-old Laval native Leylah Annie Fernandez also claimed her stake in history by winning the French Open junior singles title in Paris.
Last year’s winner of Canada’s prestigious Coach of the Year Award (for all sports), was none other than Quebecker Sylvain Bruneau, who coaches Andreescu.
“It is heartwarming to be voted the best in one’s profession and Coach of the Year,” acknowledges Bruneau, who is optimistic for the future. “Bianca impresses me with her ability to play tennis using a multidimensional approach and maintain an even temperament at crucial moments. At times when others might get nervous, she just ups her game. At the US Open, I remained very focused while also aware that I was witnessing a historic event.”
On Félix Auger-Aliassime, Bruneau observed that, “He is such a nice guy, and really smart. He has good values, with a solid upbringing,” which shines through in his interviews. Auger-Aliassime says “I fantasize about reaching an even higher level than where I am today. On the other hand, I am exactly where I want to be as an athlete and a person. Obviously, before competing against a legend, you feel like pinching yourself. That’s why it is important for me to approach my matches with a specific plan.” To be 19 again! Bruneau notes that, “We have been preparing for this rise in our young players since 2014, following the performances of Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic. They really generated a lot of excitement for the next generation.” But should we worry about longevity?
Bruneau does not think so. “These young people are not complacent in the accomplishments they have made thus far. They will continue to evolve and be contenders in Grand Slam tournaments for years to come.”
Auger-Aliassime proves Bruneau’s point by speaking in words worthy of a very thoughtful athlete. “In the future, I see an improved version of the man I am today, with a fulfilling personal and professional life. My hope is to maximize my potential. I feel that is the true definition of success.”
The Quebec City native is both level-headed and appreciative. “After a few good performances and an appearance on the talk show Tout le monde en parle, I felt a wave of affection that meant a great deal to me. I am lucky that people are so interested in following my career.”
Félix, Leylah, Bianca, Denis and team: we look forward to cheering you all on, and will no doubt have many opportunities to do so!