“For the competition for sure more than for fun!” said Robert Bédard. And he isn’t the only one who thinks that way. While some players competing in the Steve Stevens Senior Nationals in Montreal this week have contested the World Championships and various ITF tournaments, others have not played a competitive match in quite some time.
Craig Hiddleston, the top seed in the men’s 50 and over draw, arrived in Montreal from Germany where he took part in the Fred Perry Cup, an event in the Senior World Team Championships where several Top 10 players on the ITF world rankings competed. “You play your best tennis, but you still lose (laughs)… the calibre of those tournaments is excellent,” said Hiddleston. The Vancouver native hopes to live up to his top-seeded billing and win a national title but is wary of the tough road he faces to get there. “There are a lot of solid players and some seeds could lose early and it wouldn’t be considered a bad loss,” Hiddleston added. While he loves to win tournaments, Hiddleston also takes advantage of being able to travel around the world with his family to these tournaments and hopes to continue to do so for many years to come as long as he’s healthy.
At 82 years of age, Inge Weber is the favourite in the women’s 75 and over draw. A three-time world champion in 2012, 2014, and 2016, it’s hard to imagine that she had surgery on both her hips in 2010! Her goal this week? “To win of course, but also to have fun, and especially to compete,” she said. Weber is playing with the 75+ age group to get more matches due to the lack of participation in the 80+ category, the age group she normally competes with.
For his part, Brahm Robert Faber started playing tennis in his thirties. A member of the Mount Royal Tennis Club in addition to serving as President for many years, he has represented Canada several times on the international scene and even won a silver medal alongside his partner Bédard whom he describes as an incredible person. This week, Faber is trying to go all the way as the top seed in the men’s 85 and over draw. “It’s more about the competition than fun for me. Everyone here likes to win and there are a lot of good players. I have a lot of pressure this week as the top seed in my category, I have never been seeded first in a tournament before!” Faber said.
Tim Griffin, the favourite in the 65+ draw, has been playing the senior nationals for more than 20 years. For him, the victories are most important. “There is nothing better then that winning feeling,” he explained. In his last year before moving to the 70 and over category, Griffin added that there are a lot of 65+ players he hasn’t beaten yet and would like to do so before he leaves.
Gaston Blais, top seed in the 80 and over draw, is complimentary of Bédard, the man he hopes to meet in the final. “It would be a close match so may the best player win. I haven’t lost in three years at the senior nationals and I’ve also won three ITF events this year, but regardless of whether I win or lose against Robert Bédard, I won’t be disappointed,” Blais said. He hopes to stay physically healthy through the week and to be quick on his legs. Blais enjoys representing Canada around the world.
The Steve Stevens Senior Nationals are on until Sunday. Stay tuned to find out who will take home those coveted national titles!