If the Montreal component of the Canadian Open celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, 2020 would have been the occasion to celebrate Eugène Lapierre’s 20th edition at the helm of the tournament. Although COVID-19 has spoiled the celebrations, we did not want this accomplishment to go unnoticed.
In 2001, in the middle of March, just a few months before the start of the Canadian Open, Richard Legendre, then Tournament Director, surprised everyone by announcing his departure from Tennis Canada to begin his career in politics. Tennis Canada was forced to react quickly to find a worthy replacement for M. Legendre… very big shoes to fill. Eugène Lapierre was the logical choice.
“When I abruptly left Tennis Canada in the spring of 2001, I remember telling the President of Tennis Canada at the time, Bob Moffatt, that I was convinced that Eugène was ready to take on this role… and I couldn’t have been more right,” shared M. Legendre. “With his creativity and his vision, he continues to bring the Montreal tournament to new heights of excellence.”
Eugène Lapierre not only took the reins of the tournament, but also of the Montreal office. A member of the Tennis Canada team since 1993, he previously held the positions of Director of the Granby Challenger, Director of the Canadian Junior International Championships in Repentigny and Director of tennis programming and the Canadian Open. Since 1999, he also acted as Assistant to the Tournament Director.
Since 2001, the Montreal tournament has continued to gain popularity. Thanks to his numerous ideas, his vision and his leadership, the National Bank Open presented by Rogers has captured the hearts of thousands of fans over the years, so much so that over 223,000 people attended the tournament in 2019 (pre-pandemic), a world record for a one-week tournament.
“For 20 years, despite numerous challenges and the multiple upheavals of the two professional tours, Eugène has demonstrated leadership and vision to constantly improve the National Bank Open and make it a world class event for tennis fans of both the WTA and the ATP,” stated Réjean Genois, President of Tennis Québec.
20 years of leadership
M. Lapierre would be the first to say that none of this would have been possible without his team, but throughout the years, as a leader, he has managed to create an office culture which emphasizes collaboration, teamwork and transparency.
“We all consider ourselves privileged at Tennis Canada to be able to count on his forward-thinking, unifying and inspiring leadership for 20 years now,” explained Claude Savard, Vice-President of Corporate Sales. “In addition, thanks to his youthful nature, we are sure to be able to keep him with us for another 20 years!”
“It is no coincidence that the meteoric rise of the Rogers Cup in Montreal has come under Eugène’s leadership. His fingerprints are all over the world’s biggest single week professional tennis tournament,” commented Michael Downey, President and CEO at Tennis Canada. “Tennis in Montreal, in Quebec and in Canada is fortunate to be able to count on him to grow our sport. For two decades, Eugène has placed the fan experience at the centre of his leadership. It is partly why the fans come in droves to watch the world’s best players every August in Montreal.”
On the international side, he quickly gained the respect of many, from other Tournament Directors to various representatives from the ATP, WTA and ITF.
Steve Simon, WTA Chairman and CEO:
“Eugène’s vision and leadership across two decades at the National Bank Open has seen the tournament become one of the WTA Tour’s most prestigious and popular events”, said Steve Simon, WTA Chairman and CEO. “With a passion for developing the sport since his arrival at Tennis Canada in the early 1990’s, to the significant impact he has had on the event when he became the Tournament Director in 2001, to the value he has brought to the WTA through his role as a member of the WTA Tournament Council, Eugene’s contributions have been felt across all levels of the sport. The WTA offers its sincere thanks and appreciation as we celebrate Eugene’s 20 year anniversary as Tournament Director of this very special event.”
“I have known Eugène for several years now and I must say that it is thanks to him and his initiatives that our two tournaments have gotten closer and that our teams have grown to know each other and exchange best practices,” stated Gérard Tsobanian, Tournament Director of the renowned tournament in Madrid. “This demonstrates his entrepreneurial and unifying spirit, qualities that he has demonstrated in several international meetings. I would like to congratulate him on his 20 years at the helm of the Montreal tournament. He has brought the tournament to new levels in the hierarchy on the women’s and men’s tours.”
Whether on the international stage or here, in Quebec, M. Lapierre has built an excellent reputation thanks to his know-how and his charisma. 2020 has been marked with a dark spot, but were able in 2021 to see the National Bank Open Tournament Director back in action. And while we’re at it, let’s hope to be able to celebrate his 30th anniversary in 2030!