It’s hard to list the season’s top 10 moments without feeling as if a few great performances were overlooked. So here are our honourable mentions. Just because they didn’t make our Top 10 doesn’t mean they shouldn’t make yours!
At just 14 years old, Félix Auger-Aliassime took the tennis world by surprise in Drummondville in March when he became the youngest player ever to qualify for the main draw of a Challenger event. But that was small potatoes compared to what he went on to achieve at the National Bank Challenger in Granby, where he qualified for the $100 000 tournament and then fought his way into the quarters by overpowering a Top 200 player. He became the youngest player ever to win a match at a Challenger event, earn ATP points and enter the Top 800.
At their very first tournament of the season—the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells—Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock took the top honours with a three-set win (6-4, 6-7 (3), 10-7) over the Italian team of Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini, as the 2014 Wimbledon doubles champions defeated the 2015 Australian Open doubles winners. The Californian title was the duo’s third and first ATP Masters 1000. PospiSock also lifted the trophy in Beijing in October.
This season was a challenging one for Frank Dancevic but he can take comfort by looking back on September. In just over four weeks, he racked up three Canadian titles: the Tevlin, Donalda and Calgary Futures events on indoor hard courts, outdoor clay courts and outdoor hard courts, respectively! His 19-match winning streak came to an end at the Markham Futures final.
In 2015, the International Junior Tennis Open in Repentigny celebrated its 30th anniversary and an impressive Canadian delegation was on hand to mark the occasion. In fact, our homegrown talents came very close to winning it all. Charlotte Robillard-Millette (QC) and Bianca Vanessa Andreescu (ON) went head-to-head in the girls’ final. Exhausted after a tough week, Robillard-Millette was no match for Andreescu, who won the most important title of her budding career. On the boys’ side, Félix Auger-Aliassime fell in three (6-2, 4-6, 6-4) to Mate Valkusz of Hungary in the final.
During her second season on Canada’s Fed Cup team, young Françoise Abanda quickly learned how to use the home court advantage and tap into the crowd’s energy. She played what may be the best match of her career thus far and defeated Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania, who was ranked world no.33. But despite Abanda’s best efforts, the national squad fell 3-2 to the Romanians at the World Group playoffs.
After a particularly successful spring, 16-year-old Charlotte Robillard-Millette rose to world no.4 on the junior circuit after starting the season at no.97. While on the European leg of the tour in April and May, she triumphed in 15 straight matches, winning ITF Grade 1 and Grade 2 events and playing in the final of a Grade A tournament.
Playing in her very first professional tournament, 15-year-old Bianca Vanessa Andreescu didn’t let the pressure get to her. At the $25 000 National Bank Challenger in Gatineau, she fought her way into the final but fell to top seed Alexa Glatch of the US. Tennis fans at the tournament may not have recognized Bianca Vanessa Andreescu’s name but they’re all awaiting her return in 2016!
This season, Canadians made headlines on the NCAA tennis circuit. In fact, over 200 student-athletes competed in matches, including Erin Routliffe, Brayden Schnur and Carol Zhao. After a fantastic inaugural season, Schnur was named University of North Carolina’s Male Athlete of the Year. In May, Zhao became the first Canadian to reach an NCAA championship singles final since 1998. She ended the season ranked no.2 with a 35-5 record for the Stanford Cardinal. Routliffe took home her second consecutive NCAA doubles title with partner Maya Jansen. The team is ranked no.1 in women’s doubles.
Félix Auger-Aliassime, who had an incredible 2015 season, added one more crown to his trophy case just a few days ago at the Eddie Herr International Junior Championships, a Grade 1 event played at Nick Bollettieri’s tennis academy in Florida. The 15-year-old clawed his way back from three match points to defeat Australian Alex De Minaur in three sets (6-3, 6-7(6), 7-6(3)). Auger-Aliassime became the first Canadian to win the Eddie Herr event since 2011 and the very first to claim the 18-and-under title.