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Dembe: My favourite Canadian tennis moments

Jul 06, 2016
written by: Joel Dembe
written by: Joel Dembe
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Okay, so this blog is a little late for Canada Day, but I think with Milos Raonic and our juniors representing Canada so well at Wimbledon right now, it’s still good timing! I am incredibly lucky to have been part of the Canadian tennis scene for the past 18 years. Some of the best and most iconic moments in Canadian tennis history have occurred over this time period. From winning an Olympic gold medal to achieving history at Davis Cup, Canada has truly had some memorable years. As a tennis fan first and foremost, and in honour of Canada Day, I wanted to put together a list of my favourite moments that I have witnessed over the past few years.

Daniel Nestor and Sebastien Lareau win gold

I remember being in the hospital for back surgery when Nestor and Lareau won the gold medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. I had only just begun playing tennis a few years before this, so I was still learning about our Canadian tennis players. Little did I know at the time that Nestor would go onto win over 1,000 doubles matches and eight Grand Slams. At the time, the four-set gold medal victory was considered an upset as their Australian opponents, Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodford, were defending champions and also had 11 Grand Slam wins at the time. For me, I will always remember Lareau’s tears at the medal ceremony. It was truly a wonderful Canadian moment, whether you were a fan of tennis or not.

Nestor and Lareau 2000

Genie’s 2014 Wimbledon run

2014 would clearly be one of the best years in Canadian history thanks to a number of moments. For me, Genie’s run to the final of Wimbledon would mark a dramatic ascent in a very short period of time. I remember watching her throughout the year leading into Wimbledon and being struck by how confident she came across on court. Her run to the final was exciting to watch, and even though she came up short against Petra Kvitova, there’s no doubt the entire country got behind her the entire way. I remember being astounded at Genie’s level of play against Simona Halep in the semifinals.

Bouchard 2014 Wimbledon

Canadian Davis Cup performance in 2013

What an accomplishment! Canada’s semifinal run in the 2013 Davis Cup was incredible to cheer on. I’ll never forget watching from home when Canada defeated Spain 3-2 (at the time, they were the No. 1-ranked tennis country), then went on to beat Italy decisively to reach the semifinals. Having Daniel Nestor and an up-and-coming Milos Raonic on the team certainly elevated Canada’s place on the world stage. Canada ultimately lost to Serbia (thanks to Novak) in the semis, but I certainly will always remember the final shot Milos hit to defeat Spain. Simply amazing.

2013 Davis Cup Canada vs Italy

Junior success at 2012 Wimbledon

Genie Bouchard and Filip Peliwo both won Junior Wimbledon titles in 2012, another incredible Canadian tennis moment. Given the level of world competition at the junior level, it’s amazing that both Genie and Filip were able to keep their nerves in check and deliver titles on back-to-back days – Canada’s first-ever junior Slam singles championships. Canada has continued to deliver great results on the world stage, especially with recent performances by Felix Auger-Aliassime, Denis Shapovalov, and Charlotte Robillard-Millette. It wouldn’t shock me at all if Canada had another Wimbledon junior title in the coming years (maybe even this one!).

Bouchard and Peliwo -Junior Wimbledon

Canada’s first international medal in wheelchair tennis

Selfishly, I had to put this in. Our experience at the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games was amazing. Coming away with a win against the United States for the bronze medal was an incredible feeling for myself and Philippe Bedard. We will be cheering on Philippe this year as he will be representing Canada at the Rio Paralympics in September!