Photo : Kimberly Hartwig
Tennis fans in Saskatchewan got a taste of the future of Canadian tennis last week, and the future is bright.
The home favourites cleaned up last week, including one young Canadian making a dramatic breakthrough.
Get ready Canada, there are more stars coming. Here’s what you need to know.
In Case You Missed It: Canadians rule in Saskatoon
Remember the name: Victoria Mboko.
At just 15 years old, the Canadian claimed her first professional title on the weekend, doing so in totally dominant fashion on home soil at the Saskatoon Challenger.
Early on it looked like a long shot for Mboko to make waves at the event as she was drawn against the top seed Valentini Grammatikopoulou and then dropped the first set of the first-round match in a tiebreak.
From there, the floodgates opened and Mboko was unstoppable.
She won her next 10 sets in a row, only losing more than three games in a set once. She only lost four more games against Grammatikopoulou as she completed the upset. Then she lost just five games in each of her next two matches against compatriots Kayla Cross and Stacey Fung.
In the semis and final, against a pair of American opponents, Mboko lost just six total games in the two matches, capping off her run with a 6-2, 6-0 decimation of Madison Sieg in the final. The first title of the 15-year-old’s career comes in her second ITF final.
Mboko was not the only Canadian with a breakthrough in Saskatoon, as Cross and fellow Canadian Marina Stakusic won the doubles title. It was a first professional title for both women.
They were also dominant in their run to the title, opening the event with an upset of the second seeds and only dropped one set on their way to the title. Cross and Stakusic are both just 17 years old.
On the ATP Tour, Casper Ruud clawed back into the winner’s circle, putting an end to Matteo Berrettini’s winning streak in the final of the Swiss Open in Gstaad to defend his title.
Berrettini had not lost a match since March, although he had missed the entire clay court swing with an injury and missed Wimbledon with COVID-19. The victory in Gstaad is Ruud’s first in the July clay swing, having won three titles during that period last year.
Dominic Thiem appears to regaining some of his old form in Gstaad after a long road back from injury, reaching his first semifinal since the 2021 Madrid Open, upsetting seventh seed Hugo Gaston in the first round and following it up with a pair of straight-set wins before falling to Berrettini in the semis.
Lorenzo Musetti claimed his first career title in dramatic fashion at the ATP 500 event in Hamburg, upsetting Carlos Alcaraz in a three-set final.
Bernarda Pera’s incredible run on the summer clay continued in Hamburg as she picked up her second career title without dropping a set a week after claiming her first title, capping off the run with an upset of world No. 2 Anett Kontaveit in the final.
Including qualifying two weeks ago in Budapest, Pera has won 12 straight matches and two titles, all without dropping a set.
At the other WTA 250 event in Parlermo, Irina-Camelia Begu won her fifth career singles title, her first since 2017.
What to Watch: Goodbye Clay, Hello Hard Courts
The ATP Tour bids farewell to the clay this week with two 250 events on the dirt in Kitzbuhel, Austria and Umag, Croatia.
Casper Ruud will not be defending his title in Kitzbuhel, so Roberto Bautista Agut will be the highest-seeded player in the draw. Dominic Thiem will also be competing in the event on his home soil.
Carlos Alcaraz will look to bounce back in Umag, where he won the title last year, after his finals defeat last week. He is the top seed and is joined by fellow young gun Jannik Sinner and his Hamburg conqueror Lorenzo Musetti.
The summer hard court season also kicks off this week in Atlanta. Reilly Opelka is the top seed. John Isner is the second seed and defending champion, having won six of the last eight titles at the Atlanta Open.
13 of the 28 players in the Atlanta draw are American.
For the women, the hard court season begins in Prague, with Anett Kontaveit and Barbora Krejcikova leading the field.
Iga Świątek will look to get back to her winning ways on home soil this week when she returns to action in her hometown of Warsaw. The world No. 1 is coming off her first loss since February after being upset in the third round of Wimbledon to end her 37-match winning streak. She is undefeated on clay, the surface she is playing on this week, in 2022.
Świątek is the only Top 40 player competing in Warsaw.
There are no Canadians competing on the ATP or WTA tours this week.
Under the Radar: Consistent Canadians
Beyond Mboko, Cross and Stakusic stealing the show in Saskatoon, it was a very strong week for the Canadians on the ITF circuit.
Staying in Saskatchewan, Stacey Fung, Teah Chavez, and Stakusic all made the singles quarter-finals of the event that Mboko would eventually win.
At the W60 event in Evansville, Katherine Sebov and Carol Zhao both reached the quarter-finals.
Vanessa Wong had a strong week at the W15 event in Cancun, reaching the singles semi-finals and winning the doubles title with Japanese partner Hikaru Sato.
On the men’s side, Justin Boulais reached the doubles final, also with a Japanese partner, at the M25 event in Champaign, Illinois.
The level of competition on Canadian soil is getting ramped up this week with an ATP Challenger event in Winnipeg.
There are five Canadians in the main draw. Vasek Pospisil is the third seed and is joined by Gabriel Diallo, Liam Draxl, Alexis Galarneau and Jaden Weekes, who plays top seed Liam Broady in the first round.
Three more Canadians are still alive in qualifying.
You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.