Wednesday October 22, 2014

Bouchard, Raonic open Canadian eyes to tennis


To be honest, the vast majority of Canadians were at least somewhat aware of tennis before the Genie Army and Raonic Revolution became legitimate things.

The average Canadian knew a little bit about the sport, they could recognize it when they spotted it, but until now only a small minority have actually been even the slightest bit intrigued and interested in it.

But thanks to Westmount, Quebec’s Eugenie Bouchard and Thornhill, Ontario’s Milos Raonic, Canadians are quickly getting a crash course in a sport that a mere month ago was not even close to being on Canadian radar.

Think about it. Before Bouchard and Raonic made their historic runs through Wimbledon, how often did the average Canadian even think of tennis?

How about now? I can almost guarantee there has been an exponential growth in the popularity of tennis, even if just for a moment (and that’s all it takes).

That’s because both Bouchard and Raonic have done something no Canadian has ever done in the Open Era.

They made the semi-final (and final, in Bouchard’s case) of the most prestigious tennis tournament in the history of the sport, Wimbledon. What’s more, they proved to the world that Canadian tennis is on the rise and that they are the future of men’s and women’s tennis.

Also, their performance at Wimbledon propelled both of them up the World Rankings, with Bouchard sitting pretty (literally as well) at seventh overall in WTA rankings, while Raonic is also ranked seventh, but in the ATP rankings (he was sixth immediately following Wimbledon). The thing is, no one ever thought these rankings would ever (and I mean ever!) be occupied by a Canadian at any point.

Now, should you care to dig any farther, you’d find that they weren’t the only two Canadians seeing success at Wimbledon. Vasek Pospisil (Vernon, B.C.) won the Wimbledon men’s doubles title with American Jack Sock while Daniel Nestor (Toronto, Ont.) has, for years, been a dominant force in doubles tennis, both men’s and mixed.

But while Bouchard, Raonic and Pospisil have all had amazing personal successes, there is still one member of Canadian Tennis that has benefited even more from their collective success.

And that would be Tennis Canada.

Because of the recent success of Canadian tennis players they will no doubt see a large increase in the amount of people interested in the sport.

Heck, I have been checking out the tennis courts in Yorkton regularly (yes, we have some down by the YRHS there), and for weeks, no, months, no one has been using them.

When Wimbledon wrapped up I took a cruise out there and lo and behold! There were people playing tennis!

And not just one or two people either. Every single court was occupied. Even if the courts themselves are subpar.

It’s amazing what some Canadian success can do for a sport in this Nation. One or two successful Canadians and all of a sudden we claim it as one of our own.

And I personally have no problem with that.

Now just imagine what would happen to this country if our men’s soccer team actually managed to qualify for the World Cup?

Well, keep imagining because that won’t happen any time soon!



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