For many years, going back to the days of Carling Bassett, then Helen Kelesi, then Patricia Hy (and a host of other Canadian players like Glen Michibata, Grant Connell, Andrew Sznajder and Jill Hetherington) from 1984 to 1994, I eagerly cheered on these great players. Looking back, it really was a golden age of Canadian tennis, with all of them winning tour titles and Bassett, Kelesi and Hy making it into the quarterfinals of majors.
Then for some reason, Canadian tennis fell off the radar (especially in singles) for a good decade with only future Hall of Famer Daniel Nestor in the spotlight (don’t get me started on Greg Rusedski, that’s a whole other issue). Nestor is in a whole different stratosphere – his accomplishments monumental and largely ignored by Canadian media obsessed with hockey, even when he wins majors.
For the first time since that first golden age of Canadian tennis, I feel that we’re in the middle of another, more exciting age. The starting point for this new age was Aleksandra Wozniak’s tour win in 2008. Since then, the arrival of someone named Milos Raonic has delivered excitement and buzz that I’ve never seen before. Also, the crop of talented junior players that have been achieving unprecedented success is also a first for Canadian tennis.
This really is uncharted territory. Raonic is a star and headed for the Top 10; Nestor is a multi-major winner, former #1 and a legend; Wozniak, if she can just get rid of these injuries that have plagued her since 2010, I believe, has a major quarterfinal in her; Rebecca Marino and Vasek Pospisil are both immensely talented; and there are all the juniors that have recently won major titles: Filip Peliwo; Eugenie Bouchard; and Carol Zhao.
The next decade is going to be very exciting. The next step is Canada moving on to the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup vs. Spain – something they haven’t done in the modern era.
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