Bianca Andreescu Jumps To No. 5 In World Rankings And Inspires A New Tennis Generation In Canada

2019 US Open - Day 14
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Canadian Bianca Andreescu was on top of the world on Sunday, posing with the U.S. Open championship trophy at the Rockefeller Center overlooking the Manhattan skyline.

She was being feted after her stunning 6-3, 7-5 victory on Saturday over American Serena Williams, a feat that has lifted her to No. 5 in the world.

Bianca has climbed over 100 spots on the rankings since January, when she started the year as world No. 107 and she joined Eugenie Bouchard as the highest-ranked female player ever in Canadian tennis history. Bouchard reached No. 5 in 2014, while, on the men's side, Milos Raonic hit No. 3 in 2016.


The 19-year-old Andreescu became the first Canadian ever to win a Grand Slam singles title, although Bouchard (2014) and Raonic (2016) knocked on the door, making the finals at Wimbledon.

It was Bianca's third WTA title after winning at Indian Wells in March and at the Rogers Cup in Toronto last month.

Andreescu had to plug her ears at one point when the pro-Serena crowd of 23,000 erupted in the second set to herald Williams' comeback from being down 5-1. In the ceremony later, Bianca apologized to the crowd. "I know you guys wanted Serena to win, so I'm so sorry."

In the crowd watching Bianca, whose parents are Romanian, was Nadia Comaneci, the retired Romanian gymnast.

Michael Downey, the CEO of Tennis Canada, was introduced to Comaneci. "She was obviously keenly interested in Bianca because her parents are Romanian and having that connection," Downey said. "And she had met Bianca's parents."

After Andreescu did all her media interviews, friends and family gathered in the players' lounge to congratulate her. "She gave a nice speech and thanked us for our support and said she was so proud to be a Canadian," the Tennis Canada CEO said. "That was a nice way of ending that session."

For dinner, she and her team went out to Zuma, a high-end Japanese restaurant on Madison Ave., and Downey and a small group later broke into the party, not to infringe, but to say hello and give her a big hug.

Bianca's win, of course, is good for tennis in Canada. Tennis Canada is more of a facilitating organization which puts on the two Rogers Cup tournaments in Toronto and Montreal every year.

"Her two-week run and championship is going to inspire people to become fans and to pick up a racket," Downey said. "These kinds of wins will take this to a whole new level."

Bianca's win will also spark more interest from corporations to get involved in the growth and promotion of the game, the Tennis Canada CEO said.

Bianca and Felix Auger-Aliassime are only 19 and Denis Shapovalov is still only 20. Raonic and Bouchard, although older, still have a lot of tennis left in them too.

"The Canadians are going to continue to go deep in all our tournaments," Downey predicted. "That's going to drive TV ratings and sponsorships."

When Downey joined Tennis Canada in 2004, he asked what the mission was. Was it merely to put on two great Rogers Cup tournaments? The organization was not growing the sport and Canada was not succeeding at the highest levels.

In 2006, Tennis Canada put more money into high performance. At the time, Tennis Canada was spending $2 million a year and spraying it around to little effect. There was only one full-time coach and that was Sylvain Bruneau, who is Bianca's current coach.

Tennis Canada made a bold decision to invest in a national training center in Montreal. The decision was debated internally because the weather is not good all year round in Canada. A voice came forward asking whether it was better to have a center in Florida.

"We made the case that it's better to be at home and we were able to get some government money to help us and we put it into Montreal," Downey said.

Satellite training centers were set up in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary and the budget has grown to around $10 million. Another center is planned for Halifax.

But it's one thing to have a training center. It's another to have the right people to lead the way.

Tennis Canada got some criticism for going outside the country to find those coaches. No disrespect was intended, but no one in Canada had developed a world champion in singles.

Tennis Canada went looking for one coach and came back with two. They came back with Bob Brett, who had coached Boris Becker. He was interested in working with young talent. He built an under-12 program.

And they hired Louis Borfiga from the French federation who was running the biggest center in France. He helped developed players like Gael Monfils. Borfiga was perfect to be situated in Montreal because he spoke French.

Over time, Brett moved on, but Borfiga stayed and now runs the national center in Montreal. At first, Tennis Canada wanted to move players to Montreal.

But Bianca wanted to stay close to her parents in Toronto, so Tennis Canada built the program around her in Toronto. More international coaches were also hired and Tennis Canada developed Canadian coaches.

Raonic was the first entry into the national training center at age 17. Instead of going to the U.S. college system, he went to Montreal. And Bouchard, who was 15 and training in Florida, moved back to Montreal to be at the training center there.

"We finally had a program for them," Downey said. "That was the springboard."

And even though Bianca just made $3.85 million for winning the U.S. Open, Tennis Canada still pays her a "significant" amount of money in coaching and for her support staff, including her fitness and physio, although she pays for her own travel.

Asked whether she still needs that financial support, Downey said he looks at this differently.

"She may have made $1.3 million at Indian Wells and she made $600,000 in Toronto. But no. We have a commitment. And the reason being is we want her to be world No. 1. We want her to win more slams. It's a good investment."

Bianca and Felix also give back in other ways to help grow the sport. Early in the year, Tennis Canada asked both of them if Tennis Canada could use their likeness to test a social media campaign to raise money for the next generation of players.

Said Downey: "They both came back and said, 'How about we match the first $50,000 raised?' So suddenly a small campaign called What It Takes became a pretty big initiative."

It was thought the program might raise $20,000. It actually raised $220,000.

Tennis Canada's strategy to grow the game and find the new Bianca Andreescu is to try to persuade municipalities to fund more covered courts so tennis can be more accessible to the public in the winter.

Once that happens, Downey said, more talent will be discovered.






























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Canadian Bianca Andreescu was on top of the world on Sunday, posing with the U.S. Open championship trophy at the Rockefeller Center overlooking the Manhattan skyline.

She was being feted after her stunning 6-3, 7-5 victory on Saturday over American Serena Williams, a feat that has lifted her to No. 5 in the world.

Bianca has climbed over 100 spots on the rankings since January, when she started the year as world No. 107 and she joined Eugenie Bouchard as the highest-ranked female player ever in Canadian tennis history. Bouchard reached No. 5 in 2014, while, on the men's side, Milos Raonic hit No. 3 in 2016.


The 19-year-old Andreescu became the first Canadian ever to win a Grand Slam singles title, although Bouchard (2014) and Raonic (2016) knocked on the door, making the finals at Wimbledon.

It was Bianca's third WTA title after winning at Indian Wells in March and at the Rogers Cup in Toronto last month.

Andreescu had to plug her ears at one point when the pro-Serena crowd of 23,000 erupted in the second set to herald Williams' comeback from being down 5-1. In the ceremony later, Bianca apologized to the crowd. "I know you guys wanted Serena to win, so I'm so sorry."

In the crowd watching Bianca, whose parents are Romanian, was Nadia Comaneci, the retired Romanian gymnast.

Michael Downey, the CEO of Tennis Canada, was introduced to Comaneci. "She was obviously keenly interested in Bianca because her parents are Romanian and having that connection," Downey said. "And she had met Bianca's parents."

After Andreescu did all her media interviews, friends and family gathered in the players' lounge to congratulate her. "She gave a nice speech and thanked us for our support and said she was so proud to be a Canadian," the Tennis Canada CEO said. "That was a nice way of ending that session."

For dinner, she and her team went out to Zuma, a high-end Japanese restaurant on Madison Ave., and Downey and a small group later broke into the party, not to infringe, but to say hello and give her a big hug.

Bianca's win, of course, is good for tennis in Canada. Tennis Canada is more of a facilitating organization which puts on the two Rogers Cup tournaments in Toronto and Montreal every year.

"Her two-week run and championship is going to inspire people to become fans and to pick up a racket," Downey said. "These kinds of wins will take this to a whole new level."

Bianca's win will also spark more interest from corporations to get involved in the growth and promotion of the game, the Tennis Canada CEO said.

Bianca and Felix Auger-Aliassime are only 19 and Denis Shapovalov is still only 20. Raonic and Bouchard, although older, still have a lot of tennis left in them too.

"The Canadians are going to continue to go deep in all our tournaments," Downey predicted. "That's going to drive TV ratings and sponsorships."

When Downey joined Tennis Canada in 2004, he asked what the mission was. Was it merely to put on two great Rogers Cup tournaments? The organization was not growing the sport and Canada was not succeeding at the highest levels.

In 2006, Tennis Canada put more money into high performance. At the time, Tennis Canada was spending $2 million a year and spraying it around to little effect. There was only one full-time coach and that was Sylvain Bruneau, who is Bianca's current coach.

Tennis Canada made a bold decision to invest in a national training center in Montreal. The decision was debated internally because the weather is not good all year round in Canada. A voice came forward asking whether it was better to have a center in Florida.

"We made the case that it's better to be at home and we were able to get some government money to help us and we put it into Montreal," Downey said.

Satellite training centers were set up in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary and the budget has grown to around $10 million. Another center is planned for Halifax.

But it's one thing to have a training center. It's another to have the right people to lead the way.

Tennis Canada got some criticism for going outside the country to find those coaches. No disrespect was intended, but no one in Canada had developed a world champion in singles.

Tennis Canada went looking for one coach and came back with two. They came back with Bob Brett, who had coached Boris Becker. He was interested in working with young talent. He built an under-12 program.

And they hired Louis Borfiga from the French federation who was running the biggest center in France. He helped developed players like Gael Monfils. Borfiga was perfect to be situated in Montreal because he spoke French.

Over time, Brett moved on, but Borfiga stayed and now runs the national center in Montreal. At first, Tennis Canada wanted to move players to Montreal.

But Bianca wanted to stay close to her parents in Toronto, so Tennis Canada built the program around her in Toronto. More international coaches were also hired and Tennis Canada developed Canadian coaches.

Raonic was the first entry into the national training center at age 17. Instead of going to the U.S. college system, he went to Montreal. And Bouchard, who was 15 and training in Florida, moved back to Montreal to be at the training center there.

"We finally had a program for them," Downey said. "That was the springboard."

And even though Bianca just made $3.85 million for winning the U.S. Open, Tennis Canada still pays her a "significant" amount of money in coaching and for her support staff, including her fitness and physio, although she pays for her own travel.

Asked whether she still needs that financial support, Downey said he looks at this differently.

"She may have made $1.3 million at Indian Wells and she made $600,000 in Toronto. But no. We have a commitment. And the reason being is we want her to be world No. 1. We want her to win more slams. It's a good investment."

Bianca and Felix also give back in other ways to help grow the sport. Early in the year, Tennis Canada asked both of them if Tennis Canada could use their likeness to test a social media campaign to raise money for the next generation of players.

Said Downey: "They both came back and said, 'How about we match the first $50,000 raised?' So suddenly a small campaign called What It Takes became a pretty big initiative."

It was thought the program might raise $20,000. It actually raised $220,000.

Tennis Canada's strategy to grow the game and find the new Bianca Andreescu is to try to persuade municipalities to fund more covered courts so tennis can be more accessible to the public in the winter.

Once that happens, Downey said, more talent will be discovered.






























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