Photo: Kyle Clapham
Tournaments in Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Granby, Vancouver, Calgary and Fredericton will not go ahead this year
Tennis Canada announced on Friday the formal cancellation of six Challenger events. Due to repercussions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger men’s event, the women’s Challenger event in Saskatoon, the Granby National Bank Challenger and the Odlum Brown VanOpen will not be held in 2021. It has also been confirmed that the Calgary National Bank Challenger and the women’s Challenger event in Fredericton will not take place in 2021 following their initial postponement, which was announced in October of last year.
“Challenger events such as these that involve international participants are a complex and expensive undertaking and this weighed heavily in the decision to cancel, a decision that was difficult for Tennis Canada and the respective organizing committees to come to,” stated Eugene Lapierre, Tennis Canada’s Senior Vice President of Professional Tennis in Quebec and Tournament Director of the National Bank Open in Montreal. “It is particularly disappointing as their cancellation represents lost opportunities for Canadian players to earn valuable ranking points. However, we know these events will be back even stronger than before in 2022, through the hard work of their dedicated, passionate and knowledgeable organizing committees in collaboration with their valued partners.”
“The cancellation of these events has no bearing on the 2021 National Bank Open presented by Rogers, which Tennis Canada remains fully focused on hosting in Toronto and Montreal respectively this August,” commented Gavin Ziv, Tennis Canada’s Vice-President of Professional Events and Managing Director, National Bank Open in Toronto.
“With four months until the National Bank Open, we are hopeful the improving vaccination situation in Canada will bode well for our tournaments. Tennis Canada is in constant dialogue with all levels of government and continues to work towards their health guidelines as well as with the respective Tours on all possible scenarios for our ATP and WTA 1000-level events. The National Bank Open is the engine of tennis in Canada and therefore our top priority at the moment is to stage these events successfully to ensure we can continue to develop the sport across the country.”
Three Challengers Could Be Played This Fall
There are still plans to host the Saguenay National Bank Challenger (October 18-24) and Tevlin Challenger (October 25-31) this fall. Meanwhile, the Drummondville National Bank Challenger, which was originally scheduled for March 2021 but was postponed, may still go ahead later this year though a new, tentative date has not yet been set by its organizing committee.
So far, Tennis Canada has announced the postponement or cancellation of 14 Challenger events since the start of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions.
Winnipeg National Bank Challenger
The Winnipeg National Bank Challenger men’s event was scheduled to take place from July 12 to July 18, 2021 at the Winnipeg Lawn Tennis Club.
“While it’s certainly unfortunate that uncontrollable circumstances won’t allow for the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger to be staged this summer, an opportunity exists to produce a robust event in 2022,” commented Mark Arndt, Tournament Chair for the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger.
The women’s Challenger event in Saskatoon was supposed to be held from July 12 to July 18, 2021 at the Riverside Tennis and Badminton Club.
“With the safety of all those involved in running a professional tennis tournament a top priority, we support the cancellation of this year’s Saskatoon Challenger,” said Landon Grubb, Tournament Director of the Saskatoon Challenger. “We look forward to bringing back professional tennis to Saskatchewan when it is safe to do so.”
Granby National Bank Challenger
The Granby National Bank Challenger event was due to be held from July 26 to August 1, 2021 at St-Luc Tennis Club.
“Unfortunately, our team had to make the difficult decision of cancelling the Challenger scheduled for July,” stated Alain Faucher, President of the Granby National Bank Challenger. “Since the safety of athletes, volunteers and the citizens of the city of Granby is our top priority, we analyzed the situation at length and considered several scenarios. However, the costs of the sanitary measures required to ensure a safe tournament proved to be impossible to bear financially. Moreover, as our athletes come from all over the world, it was difficult to predict with certainty their presence in Granby. We will therefore turn our attention to 2022 and start preparing for the next tournament.”
Odlum Brown VanOpen
The Odlum Brown VanOpen, a mixed event on the ATP Challenger Tour and the ITF World Tennis Tour, was scheduled from August 16 to August 22, 2021 at the Hollyburn Country Club. In 2017 and 2018, this event was named Tournament of the Year in its category by the ATP Challenger Tour.
“While it is unfortunate to cancel the largest tennis event in Western Canada once again this year, the health and safety of everyone involved is paramount,” said Odlum Brown VanOpen Chair Carlota Lee. “We are thankful to our title partner Odlum Brown and our fans for their unwavering support during this challenging time. We look forward to our tournament returning to the courts at Hollyburn Country Club next year.”
Calgary National Bank Challenger
The Calgary National Bank Challenger men’s event was initially scheduled to take place in February 2021 at the Osten & Victor Alberta Tennis Centre.
“We are disappointed that we could not deliver the Calgary National Bank Challenger event in 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic. We are indeed looking forward to welcoming back players and fans in 2022”, commented Danny Da Costa, Tournament Director of the Calgary National Bank Challenger.
The women’s Challenger event in Fredericton was originally supposed to be held in March 2021 at the Abony Family Tennis Center.
“It is unfortunate news that we cannot host our women’s challenger again this year, but the health and safety of all is our number one priority as we continue to combat covid-19. We look forward to hosting this event in 2022 when it is safe to do so” stated Rufus Nel, Tournament Director of the women’s Challenger event in Fredericton.