From Romanian soil to Canada
Canada finally secured just one Grand Slam title this year. She won it at the US Open Bianca Andreescu. The 19-year-old competed in New York as one of the favorites and did not disappoint. After the final, in which she beat Serena Williams, she rose to 4th place in the WTA rankings.
Hubert Hurkacz revealed where his best results came from:
The tennis player’s parents are from Romania. Nicu Andreescu’s father studied at the University of Brasov, where he obtained an engineering degree. Mother Maria Andreescu graduated in economics from the University of Krajowa. They both moved to Canada in 1994, and six years later Bianca was born in Mississauga, Ontario. Shortly after his birth, his parents returned to their homeland. At the age of seven, the US Open winner started training tennis in Pitesti, Romania. Gabriel Hristache was his first coach. It was he who persuaded the Andreescu to return to Canada, as they would find better conditions there for their daughter to practice sports there.
“Bibi” raised by Romanian grandmothers
The family once again landed in Mississauga and Bianca was signed up to the Ontario Racquet Club. At age 11, she joined Tennis Canada’s National Training Program in Toronto. She was taken care of by professionals and work began on her future career. Her parents were busy working abroad, so she was raised mainly by two Romanian grandmothers. They took care of “Bibi’s” granddaughter, teaching Romanian at the same time. Thanks to this, the fourth player in the world now speaks this language fluently and can exchange a few words with Simona Halep.
– We came to Canada with two suitcases. We had nothing left. We immediately fell in love with this country, we felt completely different, coming from a post-communist country – remembers Nicu Andreescu after many years. The tennis player chose to represent her native country, not her parents, because, as her father said, “Tennis Canada made her who she is today.” Andreescu’s parents rarely travel with her to tournaments as their work does not allow them to do so. Dad follows her to every game, glued to the TV. Maria is unable to resist the pressure – when her daughter is playing, she locks herself in the bedroom and just waits to hear from her husband.
To Canada via the USSR and Israel
Canada is also increasingly successful in men’s tennis competitions. A few days ago in Stockholm, Denis Shapovalov, 20, won his first tournament of his career. The world first heard of him two years ago when he unexpectedly beat Rafael Nadal in Montreal. In May 2018, he entered the top 30 as the youngest player since 2005. In April this year, he was already in 20th place in the ranking. There are currently seven seats below.
Shapovalov was born in Tel Aviv as the son of Russian-Israeli citizens. His mother Tessa was previously the Russian national tennis player. After the collapse of the USSR, she moved to Israel with her father, Denis. There she meets Wiktor, the future father of a Canadian tennis player. Despite the cultural differences (Tessa is Jewish and Wiktor is Orthodox), they decided to bond. In 1999, Denis was born, and a year later his parents decided to move to Canada. – We decided to move to Canada because life in Israel was too dangerous – explains Tessa Shapovalov. They live in Vaughan, Ontario, half an hour from Mississauga by Bianki Andreescu. Shapovalov’s mother got a job there at the Richmond Hill Country Club as a tennis coach.
Denis first entered the court when he was 5 years old. After a few years, the Shapovalovs decided that the son needed better conditions, so they opened their own academy in Vaughan, called “TessaTennis”. Thus, they not only created a home base to train Denis, but also to train other children. Tess’ mother still stays with the Canadian tennis player. Previously, his coach was Oded Jacob, a Jewish coach cooperating with Tennis Canada.
Shapovalov is fluent in Russian. His parents did not want to cut him off from the language or culture of their homeland. A year ago, a tennis player gave his first interview to Russian Eurosport. Today, he lives in the Bahamas, but he represents Canada, where he took his first steps in sport.
The African roots of the future of Canadian tennis
The highest-ranked Canadian tennis player today is 19-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime, 18th. He hasn’t won the main ATP tournament yet, but everything is in front of him. At the age of fourteen, he became the youngest player in history to reach the top 800 in the rankings.
Auger-Aliassime was born in Montreal and grew up in the suburbs of Quebec. Her father Sam Aliassime is Togolese and her mother Marie Auger is Canadian from Quebec. They met in Canada, where Mr. Aliassime had come to get bread. The parents quickly noticed the talent of their son, who was on the court from the age of 4. Initially, the young tennis player was trained at the local Herisset-Bordeleau academy in Quebec. He has been a member of Tennis Canada since 2014, along with Bianca Andreescu. His father is now a tennis coach and his mother works as a teacher.
The Raonites fled the Yugoslav war
Milos Raonic, 28, is older and more successful than Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov. Currently 32nd in the world, but in 2016 he was in 3rd place. Since then, however, he has had a lot of health issues and played less. His biggest successes are the 2016 Wimbledon final and the 2016 Australian Open semi-final. So far, he has won eight major ATP tournaments, earning over $18 million. Raonic is one of the best serving tennis players in the world. He averages 15 aces per game and wins over 90% of games on his own pass.
Ronić was born in 1990 in Titograd, Yugoslavia (now Podgorica, Montenegro). Has Serbian roots. Four years after his birth, his parents Dusan and Vesna fled to Canada before the war. The Raonica family settled in Brampton in the province of Ontario. His parents are engineers by profession. The father has a doctorate in electrical engineering.
In a foreign country, Milos did not forget the language, he is fluent in Serbian. He started playing tennis at the age of six. The room was covered with posters for Pete Sampress, whom he adored. Years later, he met the American on the court and beat him in an exhibition match. At 16, he moved to Montreal and became one of the first players to join the Tennis Canada program.
Vaska Pospisil’s parents hardly spoke any English, but Canada helped them
Vasek Pospisil is Raonica’s contemporary. One of the best doubles players in Canadian tennis history. Four years ago, he was 4th in the doubles standings. His greatest success is his triumph at Wimbledon 2014 in tandem with the American Jacek Sock. He also won six other ATP doubles events. Early in his career, he tried to combine duet competition with singles competition (in singles he was at most 25th in the world). In recent years, he has struggled with health problems, which is why he is only in the fifth hundred of the ranking of the best doubles players.
Pospisil was born in 1990 in Vernon, British Columbia. His parents, Milos and Mila, fled Czechoslovakia from Czechoslovakia to Austria, then to Canada, from the communist regime two years earlier. The Pospisil family has not had it easy. They barely spoke English, and they were helped by Milos’ brother, who had already moved to Vernon. The father of the future tennis player first worked as a machine operator in a brewery and thus supported the family. With the support of the Canadian state, the Pospisils are going straight to the point and could take an interest in sport.
Vasek first appeared on the pitch when he was 4 years old. Initially, he did not only focus on tennis, as he also played football, basketball and hockey. It wasn’t until the age of 12 that he started playing tennis and had to move to Vancouver with his family as there was the nearest good tennis center there. Year after year, his career grew, but he would never have come this far if Canada had not accepted and helped his parents who fled Czechoslovakia.
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