Leylah Fernandez pumps her fist. She led Canada to victory over Chile at the United Cup on Sunday.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak

Wozniak, Raonic, Pospisil, Bouchard, Andreescu, Shapovalov, Auger-Aliassime, Fernandez, Diallo, Galarneau. 

And Marina Stakusic. 

From right to left, this pic perfectly illustrates the passing of the torch at Tennis Canada. Eugenie Bouchard—our Captain Canada in team tennis about a decade ago—undoubtedly inspired Leylah Fernandez—our present-day national heroine—who’s already sustaining the remarkable emergence of Marina Stakusic—our latest revelation and a shining example of Canada’s tennis talent.  

Even with pros like Rebecca Marino and Eugenie Bouchard in the mix, captain Heidi El Tabakh designated the 18-year-old Ontarian to lead the charge in singles as Canada’s no.2 at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals. 

Photo : Cristina Quicler – AFP

In the Estadio de la Cartuja in Seville, Stakusic rose to the occasion. In round-robin play, the current No. 258 outdid No. 65 Rebeka Masarova of Spain and No. 63 Magdalena Frech of Poland.  

Photo : TyC Sports 

Not only did Marina secure her first two wins against Top 100 players but she also set the stage for back-to-back 3–0 sweeps by Canada en route to the semis. 

Though reality caught up with her in the form of Grand Slam champion and World No. 10 Barbora Krejcikova of Czechia, she came back even stronger with a brilliant takeover in her opening match against the lefty No. 43 Martina Trevisan of Italy, who’s ranked higher than both Masarova and Frech.  

Stakusic secured the W for Canada and made Heidi El Tabakh and all of TC look like geniuses. 

Photo : Panoramic/Media 365 

And let’s not forget her dazzling showing here at home last August, at the National Bank Open. In front of a few thousand people on Centre Court at IGA Stadium, she gave Alycia Parks, then No.47, a run for her money in their qualifier.  

Photo : Paul Rivard 
Photo : Sarah-Jade Champagne

Marina Stakusic has yet to slow down since coming back from six months away healing a knee injury. After her impressive performance in Montréal, she went 22–4 and raised three winner’s trophies (W25, W60, W60) ahead of her three solid wins in four matches at the BJK Cup. 

Read also: Stakusic Dazzles in Billie Jean King Cup Debut 

About those names dropped at the top of the page, they were all young and inexperienced when they were catapulted into tennis’ oldest and most prestigious international event. They jumped at the chance and came through for Canada.  

In each instance, the recruits joined forces with their predecessors. 

And because the newbies were necessarily guided and supported by veterans who were once in their shoes, it’s a full circle moment. 

Photo : Cristina Quicler/AFP 
Photo : Massimo Paolone/AP 

With their semifinal berth, Marina, Leylah, Gabriela, Rebecca and Eugenie repeated a 35-year-old feat. The last Canadian squad to make it as far was the foursome pictured here: the late Rene Simpson, Jill Hetherington, Helen Kelesi and captain Wendy Pattenden in 1988. 

Photo : Wendy Pattenden 

But times have changed.  

And so has the winners’ cheque. 

In 2023, the five players collectively earned $2.4M. 

Photo : @geniebouchard 

Stakusic’s piece of the pie is a significant sum, but it pales in comparison to the amazing experience and mammoth amount of confidence she gained on the Spanish expedition.  

Looking forward to seeing what’s next. 

The (new) Captain Canada 

Photo : AFP 

Above and beyond Marina Stakusic’s astounding rise, the undisputed star of Canada’s Billie Jean King Cup conquest is Leylah Fernandez, who went undefeated in five matches (four singles, one doubles) and brought her BJK record to 12–3 in singles and 4–0 in doubles.  

At only 21 years old, she’s the new commander in chief of Canadian women’s tennis. The newly minted Captain Canada. 

Photo : Marcelo Del Pozo/Reuters 

After two years of ups and downs following her US Open final, her current success can only buoy her confidence and help get her back to the level her talent, determination and fight could certainly carry her to: the Top 10. 

Against all odds? Really? 

Photo : BJK Cup 

Did you call it? 

As much as we all love our country and our players, how many of you predicted Canada would win its very first Billie Jean King Cup in the year it celebrates its 60th anniversary?  

A year ago, did you think the Davis Cup would roll into Canada?  

When it comes time to celebrate, none of that really matters.  

The age-old rallying cry every Canadian team captain and leader has voiced resurfaces and becomes even more meaningful: at Billie Jean King/Davis Cup, anything can happen! Anyone who disagrees is out of luck. 

Like last year, there were a few notable absentees.  

Out of sight, out of mind, as they say. 

Photo : BJK Cup 

For example, Poland competed without the World No.1, who’d won the WTA Finals in Mexico just a few days prior. While having the tour finals and international team tennis events so close together isn’t ideal and the calendars need rearranging, that mustn’t overshadow our success. Or anyone else’s.  

Read also: Canada Stands Alone Atop the Tennis World

Canada still sank the fantastically powerful Czech armada made up of five members of the country’s top 8 who just happen to sit in the WTA Top 45. Not to mention the decisive doubles victory secured by Dabrowski and Fernandez over the terrifying team of Krejcikova and Siniakova and their seven Grand Slam titles in the last five years.  

Just like that, Canada joined the elite group of ten countries that have won the Billie Jean King Cup and the Davis Cup at least once AND the ultra-elite clique of those that hold both titles concurrently.   

Photos : Reuters et Tennis Canada 

At least that’s true for the two weeks between November 12 and the Davis Cup title defense that’ll be settled on November 26.  

If Félix and friends manage to repeat, they’ll make Canada one of the rare countries to reign supreme in both team tennis events for an entire year, like the Russian Tennis Federation (2021), Czechia (2012), the United States (1963–1969–1978–1979–1981–1982–1990) and Australia (1964–1965–1973).  


Now that Canada has developed players who, individually and collectively, rival the best in the world, we’re free to daydream about yet another prestigious title—one from the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.  


Email privard@tenniscanada.com 

Twitter: @paul6rivard 

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