2014/09/23

Former Canadian Tennis Player Rene Simpson Dies

 

(October 17, 2013) Tennis Canada announced the death of former player, coach and Fed Cup captain, Rene Simpson. Simpson passed away Thursday in Chicago after a year-long battle with brain cancer. She was 47 years old.

She also served as Canada’s Fed Cup captain from 2001 to 2009. As a pro, Simpson reached a career-high of No. 70 in April 1989 and advanced to the third round of Roland Garros that same year. In doubles, she was ranked as high as No. 32 in the world, won three titles and was a US Open quarter-finalist. Simpson was inducted into the Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame in 2011.

“We are extremely saddened and carry a heavy heart by the news of Rene’s passing,” said Hatem McDadi, vice-president, tennis development, Tennis Canada. “We have lost a very dear friend and member of our tennis family. Rene will be remembered for her courage, patriotic spirit, warmth and loyalty to friends and family. She has been an inspiration and a role model to friends, family and our current generation of female tennis players. Rene is dearly loved and will be missed. We extend our deepest condolences to Rene’s family and friends including her husband Jason Collins, her parents Burt and Jane and her sisters Carol and Anne. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time.”

Tennis Canada will honor Simpson during the upcoming Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II first-round tie between Canada and visiting nation Serbia to be held February 8-9, 2014.

Memorial services will be held in both Chicago and Toronto.  Donations in honor of Rene Simpson can be made to the Canadian Cancer Society.

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Dancevic, Polansky, Pospisil given Wild Cards into Toronto

Tennis Canada announced Thursday the men’s wildcards into the singles draw of Rogers Cup presented by National Bank in Toronto. Canadians Frank Dancevic, Peter Polansky, and Vasek Pospisil have received entry into the main draw of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament.

They join world No. 23 Milos Raonic , whose ranking gave him an automatic entry into the tournament, to make a total of four Canadians in the singles main draw. They could later be joined by other Canadians as well, as four of the country’s competitors will take part in the qualifying tournament.

Dancevic, 27, was enjoying great results in 2012 before a back injury interrupted his momentum earlier this season. He captured the $125K Dallas Challenger in March as a qualifier, defeating world No. 24 Marin Cilic en route, and also reached the final of the $50K Tallahassee event. The 2007 Rogers Cup quarter-finalist will be making his 10th appearance at Canada’s Masters 1000 event.

Polansky, 24, is coming into Rogers Cup at his career-high ranking of No. 155 in the world, which he accomplished in part due to an appearance in his first Challenger final at the $35K Panama City tournament just a couple weeks ago. The last time he played in Toronto in 2010, Polansky advanced into the second round following an opening victory over world No. 15 Jurgen Melzer.

Pospisil, 22, will be returning to Canada to compete in Rogers Cup after making his first Olympic Games appearance this week in London. He hit his career-high world ranking of No. 85 last Monday after winning the $50K Granby Challenger in Quebec. He secured his first ATP World Tour main draw victory at Rogers Cup last year, when he beat world No. 22 Juan Ignacio Chela in the first round.

The wildcards also have been decided for the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank qualifying tournament, which takes place August 4-5 at Rexall Centre in Toronto. Erik Chvojka, Steven Diez, Pierre-Ludovic Duclos and Filip Peliwo were given places into the qualifying draw and will battle for one of six spots in the main draw. Chvojka and Duclos have each previously made one main draw appearance at Rogers Cup, while both Diez and Peliwo have yet to play in the tournament’s main draw.

Rogers Cup presented by National Bank will take place from August 4-12 at Rexall Centre in Toronto. Tickets are available for purchase at rogerscup.com.

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Serena Survives, Sharapova Beaten in Toronto

Serena Williams celebrates after winning her second round match 6-1, 7-6 over Germany’s Julia Goerges in Rogers Cup singles action at the Rexall Center in Toronto, Canada on August 10, 2011. UPI /Christine Chew

 

By Brodie McPhee

TORONTO, Canada – It was another drama filled day at the Rogers Cup. There were no  rain delays, but there were two separate power outages across the grounds, the first due to an Ontario Hydro problem, and the second due to the back-up generators being overworked.

Perhaps it was a sign of things to come, as three grand slam champions on tap for the day session were ousted. First was 2011 French Open champion Na Li, upset by Samantha Stosur, and second was 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, eliminated by Andrea Petkovic.

But perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was Maria Sharapova‘s elimination from the tournament at the hands of qualifier Galina Voskoboeva. A combination of drop shots and  spinning slices from both wings kept Sharapova on the run and unable to play her preferred baseline heavy game.

For Voskoboeva, it was the culmination of hard work paying off over a fantastic week. “I’m happy, but it’s not like, you know, something that’s a miracle because I was working really hard.”

Voskoboeva has been working with retired former top 100 player Alina Jidkova, and she believes the relationship has paid dividends. “I’m happy that we are doing good together, because it doesn’t happen very often, like that you can find the person with who you feel confident, comfortable, and you can understand each other.”

The night session featured Serena Williams taking on Jie Zheng, in what was possibly the greatest match of the tournament. Williams dropped the first set to Zheng who relied on an aggressive second serve return to earn the break, standing as far in as half way between the baseline and service box. Combined with her quick, compact strokes she was able to absorb the pace of Williams strong groundstrokes and return the with interest, often creating difficult angles in the process. She only faced one break point in the set, which she saved, and took the first set 6-4.

From then on in, it was Williams’ chance to take control of the match, showing a burst of emotion and getting the crowd solely behind her. “It’s so awesome to have their support,” said Williams.  “It’s so cool when I’m out here and I hear them cheering for me. It totally helps, so I like it,” said Williams. Zheng’s level dropped, and Williams used her signature serve and forehand to take the next two sets and the match, winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. Another  key to the victory was her excellent movement in defense, which culminated in an incredible running forehand down the line passing shot which ended with Williams doing the splits. “Did you like those?” Williams laughed, “I have been working on them. Whenever I can, I try to get to do it. I love doing the splits on and off the court.”

In the last match of the day, Lucie Safarova continued the trend set earlier in the day, upsetting 2010 French Open champion and 8th seeded Francesca Schiavone, 6-3, 6-3.

During the day’s outer court action, Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Vera Zvonareva in a rematch of the Mercury Insurance Open final, Victoria Azarenka defeated Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, and Roberta Vinci defeated Ana Ivanovic. Ivanovic later retired from her doubles match part way through the first set due to pain in her left wrist.

Brodie McPhee is the author of the tennis web site Mind the Racket. He’s in Toronto this week covering the Rogers Cup WTA edition for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter at @GVTennisNews and his personal twitter @MindTheRacket.

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Falling Rain and Falling Bulb Don’t Stop Ivanovic in Toronto

By Brodie McPhee

TORONTO, Canada – For the second day in a row rain delayed play in Toronto at the Rogers Cup. However, it was not the only thing that delayed play on Wednesday. A bulb from the lighting fixture on the grandstand (Toronto’s second main court) fell and exploded on the court in between points of the Ana IvanovicIveta Benesova match.

“The glass from one of the lights came down and crashed; it almost hit the ball boy.,” said Ivanovic. “It was just in between points, I was about to serve on my 30-0 service game.”

Afterwards, a fan noticed that one of the rings holding in another bulb in the same light fixture appeared to be loose. Chair umpire Carlos Bernardes came out to inspect the situation, and after deeming it too unsafe to play, decided to suspend the match. It was completed on court 1 after Andrea Petkovic defeated Greta Arn.

“It was something,” Ivanovic said with a laugh. Indeed, it might have been something that would have caused Ivanovic to lose her cool had it happened a year ago. Not this time. She won the necessary two points needed to win the set after the delay, and cruised to a comfortable 6-3, 6-2 victory.

Starting with coach Nigel Sears and being reunited with trainer Scott Byrnes has helped her find almost immediate success and consistency. Losing in her first match with her new coach at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford allowed her the necessary practice time to become comfortable with the team. “Fortunately or unfortunately, I did have a week of practice before San Diego, which kind of did me good. I sort of put some things in place, and it showed on the court. So I was very pleased with that.”

It showed, and continues to show. Ivanovic made it to the semifinals of the Mercury Insurance Open in Carlsbad, California, losing to Vera Zvonareva in arguably the best match of the week, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. “Having played a few more matches its obviously nice to have more team wins and it does feel really good. It’s great to see the hard work paying off so soon in one way, but still a lot of hard work to be done.”

Ivanovic has had similar outstanding runs over the past year, but the results never seemed to stick. “It just feels different this time around because before I had that kind of aggressive game and I was hitting the ball really well. So if I had a few good days in a row and striking the ball well I’d have a great tournament. But it wasn’t a consistent game, and it wasn’t going to get me far week after week.”

Ivanovic seems to have finally figured out her serve again, and is maintaining a successful approach through controlled aggression. In her opening two matches in Toronto, she has only dropped 6 points off her first serve. When asked about it, she smiled “I feel good about it, but wait until I tell my coach about it, he’ll be very pleased,” she said with a laugh.

Ivanovic will continue her Rogers Cup campaign on Thursday taking on Italian Roberta Vinci, who upset Wolrd No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the second round.

Brodie McPhee is the author of the tennis web site Mind the Racket. He’s in Toronto this week covering the Rogers Cup WTA edition for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter at @GVTennisNews and his personal twitter @MindTheRacket.

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Serena Sails; Clijsters Out with Abdominal Tear in Toronto on Tuesday

Serena Williams of the U.S. serves to Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine during their match at the Rogers Cup women’s tennis tournament in Toronto, August 9, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA – Tags: SPORT TENNIS)

 

By Brodie McPhee

TORONTO, Canada – Despite Mother Nature’s best attempt to rain out the second day of main draw action at the Toronto Rogers Cup, all scheduled matches were completed in a flurry of entertaining matches on Tuesday.

Canadian Eugenie Bouchard succumbed to top ranked German Andrea Petkovic to start the day’s action on the centre court. However, both remaining Canadians in the draw came through with impressive wins in straight sets.

Laval, Quebec native Stephanie Dubois defeated German qualifier Kathrin Woerle 7-6(4), 6-1. “It was a tough first set. She was not giving me a lot of rhythm. Her game style is different than most of the girls on the tour.” She put together an impressive first set tiebreak and gained the confidence in the second set to close the match out in straight sets. In the tiebreak I did some shots and I went for my shots and it went well. I got the momentum in the second set, and I served much better in the second.” Dubois, along with fellow Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, enjoyed the opportunity of playing on home soil. “It’s always nice to play in your country. I like the fact that that the crowd was cheering for me, obviously because I’m from Canada. But it always give me good energy, never put pressure on me.”

Next up on the grandstand was fellow Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak, fresh off her championship run at the Odlum Brown Vancouver Open last week, handily defeated Shahar Peer 6-1, 6-0. “It’s always been tough for Canadians to succeed at this Rogers Cup, in Toronto and Montreal. I think it’s awesome that at least two Canadians  past the second round.”

On centre court, Serbian Ana Ivanovic cruised through her opening round match, defeating Shuai Zhang 6-1, 6-1. She credited her new coach Nigel Sears, as well as the patience involved to improve with so many new ideas coming into the fold. “Now, coming into a tournament, I really feel like I’m going to focus on each match and I’m going to work as hard as I can. And if that day was not good enough, it does not matter. I’m going to keep working whereas in the past I would take it much more personally and much more emotionally.” Ivanovic will play qualifier Iveta Benesova in the second round on Wednesday, and could play top seed and World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the following round.

In the night session, Serena Williams raced to a quick win over Alona Bondarenko 6-0, 6-3 in 46 minutes. Fresh off of her Stanford championship run, she continues to show off her vintage, dominant form winning all 20 of her first service points.

Perhaps the biggest news of the day came in the final match of the night session, where world number 2 Kim Clijsters was forced to withdraw from her first match since the French Open, up 6-3, 1-2 against Jie Zheng due to a left abdominal tear. “During my warm-up today before my match I felt my left stomach muscle really, really tight. I got taped to protect the muscle so I wouldn’t make it worse. During the match it felt like… it’s not working.” “I have a tear in my left stomach muscle, a little bit of blood.”

Beyond that, she said more tests would be needed in conjunction with rehab in order to fix the problem as fast as possible. She could not confirm her US Open status, either. “I still have a few weeks until then so I’ll try to do everything to be ready for the US Open.”

The only seed to fall on the day was 16th seed Dominika Cibulkova, who retired in the third set versus Iveta Benesova. 13th seed Agnieszka Radwanska also won along with Roberta Vinci, Shuai Peng, Petra Martic, Anabel Medina Garrigues, Bojana Jovanovski, Flavia Pennetta and Daniela Hantuchova.

Brodie McPhee is the author of the tennis web site Mind the Racket. He’s in Toronto this week covering the Rogers Cup WTA edition for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter at @GVTennisNews and his personal twitter @MindTheRacket.

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Petkovic Stops Canadian Junior Bouchard at Rogers Cup

Andrea Petkovic

By Brodie McPhee

TORONTO, Canada РGrey skies and thunderous rain delayed the start of play in Toronto Tuesday morning, but eventually blue skies prevailed and 17-year-old Canadian junior Eug̩nie Bouchard made her debut on the centre court of the Rogers Cup. Despite the defeat to charismatic German Andrea Petkovic, 6-2, 6-2, the number six ranked junior had a chance to show off what her game is all about on the big stage.

Eugénie Bouchard

“I always try to play aggressive. That’s my game style. I like to control the point with my serve,” said Bouchard. She also showed off an excellent ability to change directions with the forehand, and a considerable amount of power off the backhand wing.

As for playing in front of the home crowd after such a long wait, the Canadian settled in well. “It was a good experience. I wasn’t nervous at all, actually. There was a rain delay, but I didn’t, you know, get nervous or anything.” “The fans, you know, every point I won they were behind me and it was great. I wish I could, you know, play more at home, but every match that I play here I really appreciate it.”

Petkovic, who cracked the top 10 for the first time on Monday, had nothing but praise for the young junior, as well as American junior Sloane Stephens who she played last week. “I felt with Sloane also and with Eugenie today, I just felt they were courageous out on the court. They had the right attitude.”

Petkovic’s climb up the rankings continues, and she admitted to feeling some of the pressure from her top 10 appearance. “They already told me the week before that I’m gonna be top 10 because Sam [Stosur], she lost some points. “I felt a little pressure in San Diego, I have to say, in Carlsbad, because I didn’t want to go in the top 10, you know, just because somebody handed it to me.”

That competitive hunger and drive to succeed for the highest ranked German is evident through out her attitude, as she has already doubled up on her 2011 goal of making the top 20. She is not stopping there, however, and is looking ahead of her in the race to qualify for the WTA Year End Championships in Istanbul. “That would be a dream come true… I really have to be focused now on each and every tournament trying to play well. It’s gonna be really, really tough, but I’m gonna try my best, try to keep up the intensity and improve, and sooner or later it will come.”

Brodie McPhee is the author of the tennis web site Mind the Racket. He’s in Toronto this week covering the Rogers Cup WTA edition for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter at @GVTennisNews and his personal twitter @MindTheRacket.

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Bartoli, Jankovic, Kuznetsova Fall in Upset Filled Monday in Toronto

By Brodie McPhee

TORONTO, Canada – Main draw action got under way on Monday at the Rogers Cup. It was a day filled with surprises and upsets as seeds Marion Bartoli, Jelena Jankovic, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Svetlana Kuznetsova all fell in the opening matches of their respective campaigns.

Perhaps the most surprising result was Galina Voskoboeva defeating Marion Bartoli 6-3, 6-3. “I think I just played pretty successful this year, and I’m pretty confident right now”, said the Kazakh. It was a different story from the French woman, however, who has had an incredibly successful year, including runs to the French Open semis and Wimbledon quarters. “It was really just one of those days where nothing [was] working.” “When you commit so many mistakes like I did today, it’s really hard to win a match, to be honest. It was really like my game was not at the level I’m supposed to play regarding my ranking.”

 

Seeded Russian Pavlyuchenkova also fell in the first round, this time on the grandstand to Spaniard Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Despite taking the first set with her signature powerful ground strokes combined with some excellent passing shots, Martinez Sanchez’s variety and impressive net game managed to overwhelm and frustrate the 14th seed.

Julia Goerges of Germany celebrates a point against Jelena Jankovic of Serbia during their match at the Rogers Cup women’s tennis tournament in Toronto, August 8, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA – Tags: SPORT TENNIS)

 

In the night session, number 15 seed Jelena Jankovic was also stunned by rising German star Julia Goerges in the first match of the evening session. Goerges’ powerful serve and forehand, along with her excellent movement and defense proved too much for the Serbian. “If you play a player like Jelena, you have to play your best to beat those players. That’s what I knew before. I went for my shots and I went for my game, and, yeah, it went pretty well today.” Jankovic admitted to being “rusty” and not match fit. She remained positive, however, citing her past 3 weeks of training, and that practice is never the same as real matches.

The last match of the night featured home town favorite Rebecca Marino up against Ekaterina Makarova of Russia. It was a difficult night for the Canadian, who fought back from being down 0-5 in the first set tiebreak to even it up at 6-6, only to drop the next two points and the set, 7-6(6).

The second set followed a similar pattern. Marino looked excellent on serve, relying on her powerful first serve and driving forehand to stay on the aggressive side of the ball. The return proved much more difficult. Makarova used her lefty serve to her advantage, often kicking it out wide on the ad side of the court, and mixing up her speeds effectively. This kept Marino guessing and often left her behind from the first stroke. “Her serve was actually quite difficult. That second serve, I know it may have looked easy, but it’s difficult, because there was kind of no pace on it. So it’s hard to actually create your own. She used the angles very well generally and moved me around a lot. Very smart player, I guess, is the difference.” Unable to earn any break points in the match, Marino was broken herself at 4-5 in the second set after saving three match points, losing to Makarova 7-6(6), 6-4.

Tenth seeded seeded Samantha Stosur was the only seed to advance Monday. Greta Arn, Lucie Safarova, Simona Halep and Jie Zheng all won.

Brodie McPhee is the author of the tennis web site Mind the Racket. He’s in Toronto this week covering the Rogers Cup WTA edition for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter at @GVTennisNews and his personal twitter @MindTheRacket.

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US Open Series Approach Shots: Rogers Cup Toronto Tournament Director Karl Hale

Tennis Panorama News will be covering all of the US Open Series tournaments this summer. The second entry in our series of short Q & A’s with the Tournament Directors of some of the US Open Series tournaments is with Karl Hale, the Tournament Director of  Rogers Cup, the WTA event in Toronto which runs from August 7-14. For the first time both the women’s and men’s Rogers Cup tournaments will be held the same week  with the men in Montreal and the women in Toronto.

TPN: How did your career lead you to becoming the Tournament Director?
KH: I have always been involved in the sport of tennis in various capacities.  I coached Canada’s junior and Fed Cup Teams. I have also been instrumental in fundraising for Tennis Canada and player development.   This back ground lead to my involvement in becoming the tournament director of the Rogers Cup.

TPN: This year must be a unique challenge having both the Men’s and Women’s tournaments running at the same time in different cities, could you talk about it? What led to this decision?
KH: The tours would like to see more combined events that will grow the sport.  Somewhat like a Grand Slam experience.  There is the challenge of virtually combining our event in both cities on site and for our broadcast.  We have our Rogers Connected Zone where fans and players can chat between cities. 250 screens on site showing both Toronto and Montreal coverage.  Updates from both tournament directors and our broadcasters have more regional channels 4, 1 national and coverage of all our semifinals and finals.  It is very innovative and will be a better product for our fans on site and television.

TPN: What makes the Rogers Cup so special?
1.  Our player field has the top 50 men and 25 women.  Including Serena and Venus.  One of the strongest of any tournament this year.
2. Legends are coming.  Agassi, McEnroe, Courier and Chang.
3. Great facilities.
4. Great on site activities from free family weekend, buick test drive program. Free giveaways from various sponsors etc.
5.  Canadian people. The warmest and friendliest in the world.
6. Two world class cities with lots of activities and history.  Toronto and Montreal.

TPN: What special events are planned for the fans attending Toronto?

KH: As mentioned our Legends event and Free Family Weekend with our Celebrity Tennis are always hits!

TPN: In addition to the very strong ladies field, what up and coming Canadian Women will be playing the Rogers Cup?

KH: Rebecca Marino 38 in the world will be a dangerous player and former top 20 player Alexandra Wozniak is coming back.

TPN: Do you think that the US Open Series gives good exposure to Canadian tennis players?

KH: Yes, especially if they have good results.  Being broadcast in the US gives tremendous exposure to our players.

TPN: In addition to the ladies, there will be a legends tournament, how did this come about?

KH: Fans wanted to see more tennis and Agassi leads the group.  It’s all about entertainment and supporting our tremendous fan base.  The feedback has been even better than we anticipated.

For more information on the Rogers Cup: http://www.rogerscup.com/

Tennis Panorama News will be onsite covering the Rogers Cup – the WTA tournament in Toronto and the ATP Masters event in Montreal.

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“On The Call” with Serena Williams for Rogers Cup

Tennis Canada hosted a teleconference with 13-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams on Wednesday. Williams spoke to the media about playing Rogers Cup which will be held August 6-14 at Rexall Centre in Toronto.

On the state of her injury:

“Everything feels a lot better. I got a good report from the doctor and he says I can play with confidence.”

“I plan on being there (Rogers Cup) doing the best that I can do. …I just want to be there and do well.”

 

On rising from her rankings drop:

“My goals are to do well right now at the Rogers Cup and grand slams and pretty much every tournament I play and that means that I’ll get back No. 1 that would be a bonus, but right now my goal is to just to do the right thing on the court and do the best that I can to win.”

On whether or not she’s confident that she will be in top shape by US Open:

“With me playing Toronto with me playing Cincinnati and other tournaments so…that’s more than I usually play…that will be more than I played all of last year so I think that will definitely propel me to be really fit going into the open, match fit, match tough and that’s going to really help me.”

 

State of her game right now heading into Toronto:

“After Wimbledon I worked on a few things that I knew I needed to work on and hopefully when I get to play. I just hope the results will show.”

 

On how Martina Hingis is playing since Serena recently played  the Swiss in World TeamTennis,  and all the talk about Hingis possibly teaming up with Roger Federer to play mixed doubles at the 2012 Olympic Games:

“It would be a very cool thing for her (to play mixed doubles with Roger Federer) she’d have really tough time against me and Andy (Roddick) or me and John Isner whoever I’m playing with. I’ve always wanted to play with Roger (Federer) that would be cool. She’s a great player, She’s a great volleyer she’s always been really amazing just like fun to watch and just so smooth.  It was fun playing her, she’s playing well.

 

On playing in Rogers Cup

“I think it will be a special tournament …a preview to what the (US) Open is going to be like.”

 

Tennis Panorama News participates in many tennis media conference calls. “On The Call” serves to give readers an inside view of tennis news.


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This Month in Canadian Tennis

If January’s Australian Open was the announcement of two young up and coming Canadians, Milos Raonic and Rebecca Marino, then February was their proper arrival to the big leagues. Both turned the country’s sports fans on their ear. For the first time in years, Canadians not normally interested in tennis had their gaze fixed on the sport, and tennis fans had their gaze fixed on the country.

For Raonic, it was a whirlwind of a month that he is likely still reflecting on. In Johannesburg, he won the two required matches to qualify for the main draw, where he would go on to defeat second seed Yen-Hsun Lu before bowing out to Simon Greul in the second round. From there, he travelled to Memphis and rode a wave of confidence. He defeated fourth seed Malisse in the first round, then James Blake andRichard  Berankis. He made his first ATP Tour level final after receiving a walkover from Gael Monfils, and defeated number one seed Fernando Verdasco 7-6(6), 7-6(5). Milos did not drop a set the entire week.

With the win, Raonic had captured the attention of this fine, hockey crazed nation. He was the feature of an exclusive, one on one interview on one of Canada’s premier sports networks, Sportsnet, and the final was also shown nation-wide on the same channel. However, he was not done there, and the momentum would continue to build.

Raonic then travelled to Memphis and kept the winning streak alive. He drew an unlikely and unlucky Fernando Verdasco, who he would defeat again, this time in three sets. It was a trying run to the final this time, as the Canadian needed 3 sets to get past Radek Stepanek, Robert Kendrick, and Mardy Fish. By now, we all know the result of his second straight final, which came against Andy Roddick. Three sets, once again, and a 7-6(7), 6-7(11), 7-5 win to the American, winning on one of the most thrilling match points in recent memory. Roddick was gracious in his victory, however, and had nothing but praise for the young Canadian’s game and future. The following day, Raonic not only rose to a career high rank of 37, but he also became the highest ever ranked Candian male in singles. After two weeks and nine matches, Raonic withdrew from the event in Acapulco, Mexico, but travelled there regardless, as he will compete there as part of the Canadian team in Davis Cup next weekend.

Somewhat lost in the amazing achievements of Raonic’s runs to the final was fellow Canadian and 20 year old Rebecca Marino’s first WTA tour level final in Memphis. She lost just two sets in four matches as she picked opponents apart with impressive power from both wings. Unfortunately, she was forced to retire to Magdalena Rybarikova in the final after dropped the first set 6-2 due to an abdominal injury. Regardless, it was an impressive week for the Canadian who continues to improve and impress, and has reached a career high rank of 60th and is now the highest ranked Canadian female on the WTA tour in singles.

Marino also took part in Canada’s World Group II Fed Cup tie against Serbia, which was also the simultaneous return of Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak from injury. Unfortunately for Marino and the Canadians, they ran into another impressive young gun, big hitting Serbian Bojana Jovanovski, who won both of her singles matches against Marino and Wozniak, as well as the deciding doubles rubber with partner Aleksandra Krunic against the Canadian team of Sharon Fichman and Mary-Eve Pelletier.

Not to be forgotten in the hype of the Canadian youngsters is doubles powerhouse veteran Daniel Nestor. Nestor and his new partner in 2011, Max Miryni continued to improve after an impressive Australian Open semifinal run. They won Memphis, the only tournament they played in February, defeating the team of Eric Butorac and Jean-Julien Rojer in the final.

Long time Canadian number one Frank Dancevic has had a great start to 2011 after a difficult 2010. He had a strong showing in Johannesburg, defeating Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in the first round and making the quarterfinals, where he would lose to Adrian Mannarino. His only other tournament in February was in Delray Beach, where he lost in the final round of qualifying to Alejandro Falla.

Lastly, promising young Canadian Eugenie Bouchard won her first ITF title, a $25,000 level event, in Burnie, Australia. She just turned 17 this past month, on February 25th.

Brodie McPhee is the author of the tennis web site Mind the Racket. Each month he’ll update readers on the tennis happenings in his homeland.

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