Photo: Alex Smith|Photo : Alex Smith

With Rogers Cup presented by National Bank right around the corner, a number of Canadian players will be competing for a spot in the main draw of this important tournament on home soil. Among them is 23-year-old Brayden Schnur.

The Pickering, Ontario native garnered international attention earlier this year when he reached the final of the ATP 250 event in New York after having to go through qualifying to reach the main draw. And while he is making waves on the pro tennis tour, this is not the first time that he is in the spotlight, as he had a tremendously successful career playing in the NCAA before making the jump to the pros.

Photo : Alex Smith

A graduate of Montreal’s National Tennis Centre, Schnur was somewhat of a Canadian trailblazer for this decision to take the University path.

 “I didn’t have the success of Félix, Denis or Filip in the juniors. I was super skinny and felt like there were a lot of elements of my game that needed to be improved before turning pro.”

He came to the realization that the best option for him was to go to American University, and so alongside coaches Guillaume Marx and Jocelyn Robichaud, he carefully analyzed all his options before deciding to sign with the University of North Carolina.

“There was also a part of me that wanted to live a normal life. I never really got to experience going to school like a normal kid.”

Schnur adapted quickly to his new lifestyle of balancing school and tennis. Although the teachers expected the same of him as they did of their other students, as an athlete, he also expected a lot from himself. He is quick to acknowledge that working towards both goals was extremely challenging, but that the team atmosphere made it an incredible experience.

“In tennis, there is always a little bit of jealousy, even at the junior level. But in college, you don’t feel any of that. You just feel pure emotions for whatever your teammates do because they are your best friends. At the end of the day, a win for them is a win for the team.”

Up until New York earlier this year, Schnur’s favourite tennis memory was winning a National Indoor Championship with his buddies. What made it extra special was the fact that UNC beat Virginia in the final, Virginia who had a dynasty of a tennis program at the time.

“To be able to win for the guys who played in that final and for those who didn’t, to win for those who didn’t go on to have professional tennis careers, it was something special. We gave them a memory to cherish for the rest of their lives.”

And while he never completed his degree at UNC, Schnur is keen to return to finish his studies once he is done with professional tennis.

“No Schnur has ever graduated from college. I think my sister is going to beat me to that [chuckle], but I do hope to be able to one day hang up that diploma in my home.”


*Feature photo: Alex Smith