Photo: Peter Power

By Ben Lewis and Mike McIntyre

It’s been another wonderful year for Match Point Canada, the official podcast of Tennis Canada.

We’ve been thrilled to share 58 total episodes and interviews with our listeners through another action-packed tennis season!

There were numerous highlights along the way, as we spoke with Canadian stars like Bianca Andreescu, Leylah Annie Fernandez, Rebecca Marino, and Vasek Pospisil, touched based with legends like Daniel Nestor and Pam Shriver, and traded laughs with top analysts like Steve Weissman and Prakash Amritaj.

It wasn’t easy to narrow things down to our top 10, but here nonetheless are our favourite episodes and moments from 2022 that we hope you enjoy:

Episode 2: Olympic Gold Medallist Belinda Bencic

It’s always special to talk to the top players in the world and especially one as consistent as Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic.

The 2020 Olympic Gold and Silver medalist (in singles and doubles) returned to Match Point Canada once again to kick-off the 2022 season and bring us up to speed on her goals for the year.

Bencic has always had a soft spot for Canada in her heart after capturing the biggest title of her career back in 2015 in Toronto at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers.

Photo: Tyler Anderson

She also gets along famously well with our own Bianca Andreescu, and the two call each other “twin” when they see each other on Tour due to their close physical resemblance.

Bencic would join the podcast again later in the year during the National Bank Open, speaking ahead of a straight sets victory over Serena Williams (Serena’s final match in Toronto before her retirement).

Click here to listen!

Episode 7: Prakash Amritraj talks ATP storylines

For those who have regularly viewed the Tennis Channel, they’ll be plenty familiar with host and reporter, Prakash Amritraj.

The 39-year-old regularly delivers insightful and thoughtful panel interviews with the players, and his engaging and charismatic personality instantly brings you into the conversation.

He’s also an absolute fitness buff, often documenting his commitment to strength training on his Instagram channel, and is regularly exploring other ventures in acting, producing, and writing.

Ben interviewed Prakash at the end of February, when Daniil Medvedev had become the new world number one, Rafael Nadal was on an immense winning streak, Félix Auger-Aliassime was trending up, and the women’s game looked wide open.

Listen to the episode here!

Episode 8: Sister Act – Leylah Annie Fernandez and Bianca Jolie Fernandez

2022 turned out to be a big year for the Fernandez sisters, as Leylah Annie won a title in Monterrey and Bianca Jolie made a more regular appearance at professional events.

Mike caught up with the pair in Mexico where they had just suffered a loss together in doubles.

While many players might decline a specific request to speak following a loss, Leylah Annie and Bianca Jolie were more than happy to make time for Match Point Canada and their Canadian listeners.

We were struck by the pleasant rapport between the two sisters, who are quite tight and comfortable bantering with one another!

Photo: Peter Power

Leylah Annie had always told us that the player she most wanted to play doubles with on the WTA was her younger sister and the pairing is one that Canadian tennis fans can expect to see more of in the future.

Find out what the Fernandez sisters had to say here!

Episode 13: Welcome to the Spotlight with Andreea Prisacariu

Sometimes it’s an unexpected or lesser-known guest who turns out to have a big impact on the podcast and this was certainly the case with Romania’s Andreea Prisacariu who joined Mike to talk about her sudden moment in the spotlight.

Despite being ranked 336th in the world, Prisacariu was called into action in the nation’s Billie Jean King Cup tie against Poland in April and had to face none other than World No. 1 Iga Swiatek.

As one would imagine, the match was a lopsided one, but Prisacariu endeared herself to many tennis fans with her candid humour both before and after the match.

She also unfortunately endured criticism from many fans in her country who were quite harsh in their comments towards her on social media – we spoke at length about how she was able to draw strength from this and persevere.

This episode was a strong reminder of the human side of the sport and how challenging it can be for players ranked outside the top 100 to continue to find the resolve to further their professional aspirations in the face of adversity.

Click here to listen!

Exclusive interview: Chatting with juniors Kayla Cross and Victoria Mboko

They are two names to keep a close eye on in the coming years.

Canadian juniors Kayla Cross and Victoria Mboko both enjoyed excellent 2022 seasons, and together reached the junior girls doubles finals at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

Photo: Martin Sidorjak

Ben spoke in-depth on what motivates the teenagers, their goals in tennis, and if they intend to pursue a collegiate career or move straight into the professional life.

Since the conversation back in early February, both players went on to achieve great milestones in the calendar year.

Mboko won her first career senior ITF title, winning the Saskatoon Challenger in July, and would later move inside the top 500 of the WTA rankings.

Meanwhile, Kayla Cross recorded her first career WTA win in the 125K event in Vancouver, as she and Genie Bouchard teamed up for a first-round doubles victory.

She was also victorious in Saskatoon, winning the doubles title with fellow Canadian Marina Stakusic.

Listen to the exclusive interview here!

NBO Day 4: All smiles with Yulia Putintseva

She is one of the feistiest and intense competitors on the WTA circuit.

It’s also notably quite rare to get a sit-down interview with the 27-year-old veteran, who’s a three-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist and has reached a career-high ranking that matches her age.

If you’ve watched Putintseva play, her ferocious style immediately takes hold. She is vocal while winning or losing, whether it’s to unload a mega fist pump after a powerful winner or toss her racquet to the side in disgust after a poorly timed mistake.

Putintseva detailed handling her wide range of emotions on court in a short sit-down interview from the National Bank Open.

Can we also suggest that she was then perhaps buoyed by her conversation with Match Point Canada?

At the event in Toronto, she advanced to her second career WTA 1000 quarterfinal, knocking off the 4th-seeded Paula Badosa and defeating American Alison Riske.She also reached the quarterfinals in doubles at the National Bank Open, playing alongside 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.

Listed at just 5 feet and 4 inches, don’t let Putinsteva’s smaller stature fool you – she packs a lethal punch on the tennis court.

Match Point Canada’s chat with Putintseva is available here!

Exclusive interview – Bonding with Bianca

Mississauga native and 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu generously made three separate appearances on Match Point Canada in 2022, initially speaking with us in late April from Stuttgart, then in August at the National Bank Open in Toronto, and making time ahead of the Billie Jean King Cup in Glasgow.

Andreescu pictured with Ben and Mike at NBO Toronto

Andreescu returned to the tour earlier in April and compiled a 20-13 record in her abbreviated season.

While she had just touched down in Scotland before her conversation with Ben, she was in great spirits, and further confident in the direction of her game.

“I definitely feel like I’ve improved tremendously since last year,” said Andreescu, who outlined an objective to return to the Top 10 by late next year.

While Andreescu had some positive results in 2022, particularly advancing to the finals of the Bad Homburg Open on grass, she also outlined areas of improvement that she’s keen to tackle, most notably discussing her serve.

Andreescu finished the season ranked No. 46.

Listen to Bibi’s interview here!

Episode 27: Coaching the Williams Sisters with Eric Hechtman

Some tennis coaches might dream to have the opportunity to coach one of the Williams sisters, but for Eric Hechtman the reality during the summer of 2022 was coaching both Serena and Venus simultaneously!

We spoke with the American coach just ahead of the US Open where tennis fans around the world took the time to acknowledge the profound impact on the sport and legendary career accomplishments of Serena Williams.

Hechtman spoke at length about how he found himself working with both sisters and what it was like to be guiding two of the all-time greats from a coach’s perspective. 

The interview with Eric Hechtman is available here!

Episode 32: Captain Canada: Vasek Pospisil

One player who can always be counted on to represent his country is Vasek Pospisil. The veteran Canadian had a 2022 to remember that culminated with a historic victory at the Davis Cup while playing a crucial role in doubles for Team Canada alongside Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov.

Photo: Martin Sidorjak

Pospisil has also worked hard this year to get his ATP ranking back up into the top 100 and is a vocal leader among his peers as co-founder of the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA).

Vasek stopped by to talk with Mike and Ben in the Fall ahead of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals to chat about his love of playing for Canada, the solid chemistry the squad enjoys, and how playing for the Maple Leaf brings out the best in his game.

Click here to listen!

Episode 3: Behind the Scenes with Daniela Hantuchova

Former star player and seven-time WTA winner Daniela Hantuchova graciously returned to Match Point Canada for her second visit in as many years.

Hantuchova, who had immense success as a professional, winning Indian Wells, reaching the Australian Open semifinals, and achieving a career-high ranking of No. 5, is now heavily involved in the sport on the sidelines as a commentator.

She has covered Slam events, produced a web series on Tennis Channel, and even has her own podcast, The Real DNA.

We delved into what drives her post-tennis career, and even wrapped it up with some fun rapid-fire questions!

In this same episode we also broke down the events unfolding at the Australian Open – which would lead to singles titles from Rafael Nadal and the now-retired Ashleigh Barty as well.

All that and more here!