All eyes are on Bianca Andreescu in her hometown of Mississauga.
The 19-year-old won the Rogers Cup in Toronto on Sunday, claiming the title after Serena Williams withdrew from the final mid-match due to injury.
It’s just the latest victory in an astonishing year on the courts for Andreescu, who is quickly becoming a household name.
“I think it’s huge, especially with how young she is,” says Aleks Cheho, a 15-year-old tennis instructor at Applewood Tennis Club in Mississauga. “She’s a teenager and her ability to fight through injuries and really fight even when the match isn’t going her way to come out and still win.
“Watching her is so motivational to you, it inspires you. And she’s a girl, so hopefully it inspires more girls in Canada.”
Andreescu has been labelled a fun player to watch thanks to her energetic and aggressive style.
“She’s fearless on court,” says fan Michelle Aristizaba, who’s been playing tennis for more than two decades. “She’s got a lot of power, pace behind the ball. She’s quick. She gets low for the ball… (She has) a great serve — just really hungry.”
This is the first time since 1969 that a Canadian has made it to the Rogers Cup final. In Mississauga, Applewood Tennis Club says it has seen a spike of about 10 per cent in the number of new players walking out onto the courts.
“Within my lifetime there hasn’t been that many — I’m 34 and there hasn’t been many Canadians up there in the top rankings,” says recreational tennis player Luke Naka. “It’s pretty exciting to have a young, exciting player coming up professionally. It’s great.”
At International Sports Bar and Eatery, fans grabbed a seat at the bar to take in Sunday’s match against Serena Williams — the hometown crew cheering for the hometown girl.
“She’s young, obviously she’s talented and she’s from Mississauga,” said sports fan Jeff Holmes. “Let’s wait and see two or three years how well as she goes. She’s done well.
“She’s got a lot of energy, that’s for sure, and it’s unexpected for her to get to this point, so it makes it even more special.”
And Andreescu didn’t disappoint, winning the final after Williams bowed out.
“This is like a dream game because we have someone from Mississauga representing us in our community here,” says fan Ivan Triana. “We are very happy.”