The spectacular rise of Canada’s tennis stars has sparked a sudden resurgence of interest in the sport.
Normally empty tennis courts are showing signs of life again, and Sarnians who wouldn’t know an ace from a hole in the ground tuned in to watch Eugenie Bouchard, Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil make history at Wimbledon last week.
The Sarnia Riding Club holds a “Wimbledon Day” tournament each July, and this year participation jumped to 32 from the usual 10 players, said tennis coach Kristina Polakovic.
“It’s really exciting. Now that we have really good professionals it’s making an impact in the community.”
Children at the club even gathered around the TV last week to watch Eugenie Bouchard advance to the women’s final at Wimbledon.
“They were all really into it because she’s Canadian. It’s kind of like watching hockey now,” said Polakovic, 20.
Sarnia Tennis Club board member Clive Barry said Raonic and Bouchard have made fans of other sports sit up and take notice.
“They’re having a huge impact on tennis, not just in Sarnia, but nationally,” Barry said. “To have not one but two (singles) players reach that level is phenomenal.”
Pospisil and his American partner advanced to the men’s doubles final.
Raonic made it to the semi-final, his first at a Grand Slam, before losing to Switzerland's Roger Federer.
And Bouchard, despite a record TV audience cheering her on, lost in the Wimbledon final to Czech Petra Kvitova.