This weekend would have marked the start of the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank. Ouch! It hurts to write it bluntly like that, but the current pandemic had other ideas for our event.
Well, once the shock is over (we have known about it since April), there’s no point in being sad about the past, we have to find a reason to look ahead. And what is ahead looks pretty good. With remarkable results in recent years, our athletes have stood out on the world stage. It is not easy to make a name for yourself in such an internationally competitive sport. And yet, this is wat Bianca, Eugenie, Leylah, Françoise, Gabriela, Félix, Denis, Milos and Vasek have achieved… And the good news is that apart from the last two – the eldest of the group at 29 and 30 years old – the average age of all these talented players is 21 years old. It will be quite the journey to follow them on the tour for the next 12 months (that’s not to say that it won’t be for the next 12 years) and will be a good short term remedy while we wait patiently for our tournament.
In the meantime, it is in the area of sports development among young people that the pandemic has hurt us the most. It is worth saying: the purpose of the Rogers Cup is to fund Tennis Canada’s mission to grow tennis year-round. It means activities throughout all levels of development, from initiation to the elite. Mini-tennis in schools, competitions, training of instructors, officials, talent detection, support for provinces, international transition tournaments, the National Tennis Centre in Montreal … A variety of programs in which we unfortunately had to cut. This is understandable since our major tournaments in Montreal and Toronto represent 90% of Tennis Canada’s annual revenue. This is what we lost by postponing our Rogers Cup financial engine to 2021.
But don’t worry, Canadian tennis had the wind in its sails before the pandemic and we will do everything in our power to see it regain its momentum as quickly as possible. Perhaps it will take some time before we get all our tennis development activities back up and running. But we are fortunate to be able to count on our home grown stars to continue to inspire young people and on our two of the flagship tournaments on the professional women’s (WTA) and men’s (ATP) circuits, two competitions that alternate between Montreal and Toronto every year. These are our remedies to overcome the causes of this pandemic, remedies carefully developed in our laboratories at IGA Stadium.
All that to say that we cannot wait to see you again next year. When I say “we”, it is the 1,200 volunteers, my colleagues, myself and all our partners who will welcome you. No, are not preparing for our tournament thinking that we will be in the middle of a ninth wave. Of course, we will put all the necessary measures in place to ensure everyone’s health, but we owe it to you to plan our event with the hope of continuing to host an exceptional sporting spectacle. We owe it to you, Quebecers and Montrealers, because you are the main players in the success of the Rogers Cup. It is you who set the atmosphere in the stadium, the almost palpable emotion of each match, you who paint the tournament site with your festive spirit all week, it is you who bring this Montreal “joie de vivre” that defines us… and which athletes and visitors alike appreciate.
We will be returning from August 6 to 15 next year. Oh and by the way, we’re back with the girls… Bianca, Eugenie, Leylah, Françoise, Gabriela… I can’t wait.