Liam Draxl prepares for a return in practice. He is playing this week at the ITF event in Laval, QC.

Phot : Pascal Ratthe

Recent Canadian Davis Cup Team newbie Liam Draxl is the top seed this week as the ITF circuit returns to Canada for the first time since March for an M25 event in Laval. 

It is the first professional men’s event of the year held in Canada, not including the February Davis Cup tie where Draxl was a part of Team Canada presented by Sobeys for the first time, and the first pro event since the women played in Montreal in March.  

Draxl has a fascinating first-round clash against countryman Keegan Rice, currently the No. 2 ranked Canadian junior. The 18-year-old has begun playing more men’s ITF events rather than juniors as he looks to make the transition to the pros. 

Overall, there are thirteen Canadian men in the 32-player draw. Along with the top-seeded Draxl, Justin Boulais is seeded sixth. Boulais recently finished the NCAA season as the No. 2 Canadian man in singles. He also has an all-Canadian first-rounder, taking on Juan Carlos Aguilar. Boulais could meet Draxl in the quarter-finals.  

Read also: WTA Power Rankings – More Surprises Coming at Wimbledon?

Taha Baadi, the top Canadian man in the NCAA singles ranking at season’s end, took a wildcard into Laval and will play Justin Roberts of The Bahamas in the first round. 

Four other Canadians who ended the school year in the NCAA rankings are competing in Laval: Joshua Lapadat (who was the No. 1 Canadian doubles player), Cleeve Harper (who reached the doubles semifinals at the individual championships), Duncan Chan (who played for national champions TCU), and Alvin Tudorica. 

Harper, Chan, and Tudorica all came through qualifying to enter the main draw. Harper’s doubles partner from the University of Texas, American Eliot Spizzirri, is the seventh seed. 

Read also: ATP Power Rankings – Young Guns Look to Cement Top Dog Status at Wimbledon

Lapadat opens against No. 2 seed Clement Chidekh of France. 

Rice is not the only Canadian youngster competing in Laval. Recent ITF J60 Ile des Soeurs champion Mikael Arseneault qualified for the main draw and will be playing his first pro event of the year. Arseneault has reached the final in his last three ITF junior events. 

On top of the Draxl-Rice and Boulais-Aguilar clashes, there is also an all-Canadian first-round match between Chan and Sasha Rozin, with the winner facing either Lapadat or Chidekh. 

The event will run this week, with the finals on Sunday, July 7.