Canadian tennis star Denis Shapovalov is back in Montreal after his great run in the 2017 Roger’s Cup, where he defeated Spain’s Rafael Nadal.
This made Shapovalov the youngest player to ever make the tournament’s semi-finals round.
Shapovolov took some time Saturday morning to pass on some of his tennis expertise to local children at the IGA Stadium in Jarry Park, where he will be competing for the next week.
The 20-year-old said the workshop was a way for him to give back. “I especially wanted to do something this week just because this is the place where it all started for me,” Shapovalov said.
For Manouk Messier, the Saturday morning workshop was an eye-opening experience because he got to play tennis for the first time. “It’s fun. I think I’m going to play now,” Messier said.
“We’re marking our space here. We want to freeze the status of the tournament for many years,” said Eugene Lapierre, Rogers Cup tournament director.
Organizers say that the Montreal tournament raises $15 million each year, and that the money is used to help grow the sport.
The tournament has grown in popularity. Montreal now holds the world attendance record of 216,000 people set in 2017 for a one-week, men’s only event. Organizers want to beat that this year.
“We’re ahead of the game compared to our best year ever,” Lapierre told Global News on Friday. “So we’re hoping to announce a new record for the Montreal event.”
Having successful Canadian players, such as 18-year-old Auger-Aliassime and 20-year-old Shapovalov, inspires other youth to dream of making it big.
“It motivates them,” said 17-year-old tennis fan Nathalie Momcenovic, who watched the workshop. “They go more on the court, practise more.”
Marina Tulchinsky agreed as she watched the exercise with her two children, who both play tennis. “It gives them a goal, it gives them a perspective — something that they can strive for.”
— With files from Phil Carpenter