Though a banner season on the professional tours for Canadian tennis, success for the nation’s athletes didn’t stop at the ATP World Tour and WTA levels in 2014. Year in and year out, Canadian junior, senior, and wheelchair players put forth remarkable performances and 2014 was no different. Here’s a look at some of the top results from this year.
Arguably the biggest highlight of the junior season came late in the year, with Bianca Vanessa Andreescu becoming the fourth straight Canadian girl to win the U16 Orange Bowl singles title. Following in the footsteps of compatriots Erin Routliffe (2011), Gloria Liang (2012) and Charlotte Robillard-Millette (2013), Andreescu dropped just one set in six matches en route to claiming the prestigious trophy.
Though she spent most of her time on the pro circuit this season (rising to a high of world No. 175 along the way), 17-year-old Francoise Abanda added to her impressive junior resume by advancing into the Junior French Open semifinals in June. It was her second career Slam semifinal after reaching the same stage at Junior Wimbledon in 2012.
And at World Junior Tennis in Czech Republic, known as the Davis Cup and Fed Cup for the U14 age group, Canada finished in second place in the boys’ draw. Nicaise Muamba, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Jerry Huang went 4-1 through their five ties, losing only to Germany in the final.
Within Canadian borders, 15-year-old Robillard-Millette dominated the U18 category at the Rogers Junior National Tennis Championships, winning both the indoor and outdoor singles titles. On the boys’ side, Alejandro Tabilo took home the indoor crown for the second straight year and Harrison Scott won the outdoor championship.
In wheelchair tennis, several athletes hit new career-highs, including Gary Luker at world No. 15 (up from a 2013 year-end of No. 23), Mika Ishikawa at world No. 20 (up from No. 56), and Rob Shaw at world No. 26 (a newcomer who had no ranking at the end of 2013). Alongside longtime top player Sarah Hunter, Canada’s depth in the quad ranks grew to include four players now sitting inside the Top 40.
Luker won three ITF singles titles in an impressive season for the newly top-ranked Canadian quad player, while Shaw won his first three career doubles titles, all with Luker. For Ishikawa, one of her big wins came at the ITF Series 1 Korea Open, where she captured the doubles title with American Nick Taylor. Hunter, a doubles champion earlier in the year in Johannesburg, also began competing in women’s events in advance of next year’s Parapan Am Games in Toronto and she started on a strong note by clinching the Mazatlan Open in Mexico this month.
On the men’s side, Philippe Bedard and Joel Dembe continue to be Canada’s best, with rankings inside the Top 50. Bedard also won his second consecutive men’s singles crown at the Birmingham National Wheelchair Tennis Championships. Luker claimed the quad title, while former world No. 9 Helene Simard make a triumphant return to the sport and won the women’s trophy.
Known as one of the toughest nations in super seniors tennis, Canada’s top athletes over the age of 60 proved to be dynamic competitors once again in 2014. For the fourth year running, the Canadian Doris Hart Cup team – featuring Rosemarie Asch, Muffie Grieve, Joan Bradich, and Joyce Cutts – captured the women’s over-80 world team championship. Led by Asch, who has been a member of all four gold medal teams, Canada remains the only country to have won the Doris Hart Cup, an event added to the ITF Super Seniors World Team Championships in 2011.
On the individual stage, Canada won four gold medals. Two came courtesy of Grieve, who won both the women’s and mixed doubles events in the over-80 age category. Inge Weber also won gold in the women’s over-75 singles draw to claim her second world championship in three years. Rounding out the winners are Jim Cameron and Keith Porter, who clinched their second straight triumph in men’s over-65 doubles.