Photo : Carl Thériault|Photo : Sarah-Jäde Champagne|Photo : Patrice Lapointe
Since 2005, National Bank and Tennis Canada have been a leading team in the tennis world, partnering on a number of projects both on and off the court, including ATP and WTA level tournaments, five Challenger level tournaments and important youth programs.
In addition to being the presenting sponsor of the Rogers Cup events in Montreal and Toronto, National Bank has been the title sponsor of Challenger events held in Quebec: Drummondville, Gatineau, Granby and Saguenay since 2005. Last year, another tournament was added to the calendar, as Calgary hosted the first edition of their men’s tournament.
Challenger tournaments are an excellent way for rising tennis stars to showcase their talent at the professional level and collect important ranking points. If 2019 was any indication, the future of Canadian tennis is very bright. In Drummondville, it was Ontario native Liam Draxl who made a splash on the professional circuit, winning his opening round match and coming close to defeating the tournament’s eighth seed for a spot in the quarter-finals. It was the more experienced Canadian doubles specialist Adil Shamasdin who walked away with the doubles title in the first Challenger event of the year.
There was a strong contingent of Canadian players in Gatineau and Granby this summer, which saw solid performances from the likes of Alexis Galarneau, Carson Branstine and Françoise Abanda. However, it was the 16-year-old Leylah Annie Fernandez, who captured her first titles on the professional tour in both singles and doubles in Gatineau and went on to reach the final in Granby. She did not stop there. At the final event of the year on the Quebec circuit of tournaments, Fernandez took home her second career doubles title in Saguenay, playing alongside compatriot and fellow rising star Mélodie Collard.
With another year of tournaments come and gone, the clear beneficiaries of the time, effort and funding put into these events are our athletes, as they are no longer required to constantly travel to make a career playing tennis.
National Bank also supports multiple youth programs, such as the National Bank Little Aces. Launched in 2007 in Quebec and 2014 in Ontario, the objective of this program is to recruit and develop kids between the ages of 6 and 8 whose physical abilities distinguish them from their peers. The aim is to improve the overall development of these young participants with the goal of retaining them in the competitive stream of tennis. This will lead to a much larger pool of young competitors, ultimately resulting in future Canadian champions. Over the last ten years, more than 2,000 kids have gone through the talent detection process. Together, National Bank and Tennis Canada are working towards making our sport more accessible and making a difference across the country.
*Feature photo: Carl Thériault