News from the National Bank Challenger, July 9-17 at Winnipeg Lawn Tennis Club.
Auger-Aliassime Falls In Third-Set Tiebreak
Felix Auger-Aliassime, the 15-year-old Canadian who reached the French Open junior boys’ singles final in June, lost 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(8) to Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia on Stadium Court Wednesday at the National Bank Challenger.
“It was a lot of ups and downs for both players,” Kavcic said of the final set. “They were really hard conditions to play in – a lot of wind. It rained of course, two times, and we waited all day (to get onto the court). So it was hard to find the rhythm and right concentration to play consistently the whole match.”
Kavcic is playing in his fourth tournament since being sidelined for eight months due to a broken foot in his bone. He praised Auger-Aliassime for his performance.
“For 15 years old he’s one of the best guys in the world for sure,” said Kavcic. “I hope he’ll work hard because he’s really talented. He has nice shots and a good serve for his age.”
Canadian Makes Main Draw Challenger Debut
Benjamin Sigouin, 17, played his first-ever ATP Challenger main draw match over two days at the National Bank Challenger. In match that started Tuesday and ended Wednesday due to rain, Sigouin was beaten by American Mitchell Krueger 6-0, 6-4.
Sigouin has been rising up the world junior rankings. At the French Open, he reached the quarterfinals in junior boys’ singles before losing 6-3, 7-5 to eventual champion Geoffrey Blancaneaux of France.
“It was really special – my first main draw at a Grand Slam,” Sigouin said. “To do that well was pretty cool.”
Sigouin’s run in Paris included a 5-7, 6-4, 13-11 victory over Australia’s Alexei Popyrin.
“There are only three tournaments (all the majors except the US Open) a year where you can play that long,” Sigouin said of his 13-11 win in the third set. “To do it in the third round against a good player was fun.”
At Wimbledon, Sigouin teamed up with Louis Wessels of Germany to reach the junior boys’ doubles semifinals: the pair lost 7-6(5), 7-6(7) to Kenneth Raisma/Stefanos Tsitsipas, who went on to beat Canadians Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov in the final.
Canada has three players in the top 15 on the ITF junior boys’ world ranking list: Shapovalov at No. 2, Auger-Aliassime at No. 5 and Sigouin at No. 12.
“Me, Denis and Felix are all really good competitors,” said Sigouin. “We’re really good friends but we push each other for sure. Every result they have makes me more motivated and I’m sure vice versa.”
Sigouin was introduced to the sport by his dad on the courts at Stanley Park in Vancouver at age five. For the last couple of years he has been training at the National Training Centre in Montreal.
“At the National (Training) Centre in Montreal usually days are 8:30 in the morning until 5:00 and during that time we do school, fitness and tennis – usually tennis twice a day, school twice a day and fitness at the end of the day,” Sigouin said.
At the National Bank Challenger, Sigouin has enjoyed his time practicing with top players from around the world.
“I’ve hit with a good bunch of them,” said Sigouin, who is in the men’s doubles draw with fellow Canadian Jack Mingjie Lin. “It’s nice to see some different balls than the juniors.”
Volunteers Play Big Role In Tournament Success
Wearing red shirts, volunteers have been buzzing around Winnipeg Lawn Tennis Club carrying out such tasks as drying the courts after it rains, getting water and Gatorade out to the players, looking after the towel service and operating the scoreboards. Then there is the non-stop shuttling of players to and from the hotel.
The volunteers are making sure the third largest professional tournament of 2016 in Canada runs smoothly.
“It couldn’t run without the volunteers,” said Jody Woods, who heads volunteer services at the National Bank Challenger with Lillian Wong.
Between casual, full-time and part-time volunteers, Woods said the tournament has about 60 volunteers.
“What I find in general each year is there are always people once it starts – when they come down and see the excitement and the environment – they want to be part of it,” Woods said.
To see what volunteer positions are available for the rest of the tournament, please contact Woods at firstname.lastname@example.org
“I always say, ‘tell me when you’re here’ and they’ll jump in and do what they can,” said Woods.