Welcome to Tennis Canada’s 2022 Annual Report. I am delighted as Chair of the Board to pen this welcome remark, and to thank a wonderful team for an incredible year.
Before I begin to recap the year for Tennis Canada and tennis in Canada, I’d first like to acknowledge my predecessor. During Jennifer Bishop’s time as Chair, our organization experienced incredible success, including celebrating a first Grand Slam singles champion as well as the implementation of countless off-court initiatives to cement our place as a world-leading tennis nation, including in crucial areas such as Gender Equity and Safe Sport. Fortunately, we were able to continue that momentum in 2022 and, having navigated the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most challenging times in our organization’s history, we flourished and reached new heights last year. Heights unmatched in our 133-year existence. I would also like to thank our departing board members, Marcie Ellen Jackson, Derrick Rowe and Mike Tevlin, each of whom have contributed to the achievements of Tennis Canada, and welcome our newest additions, James G. Bagnell, Mohamed Ismath, and Ula Ubani, who have already been active on our Board since last May.
It’s hard to start anywhere other than the incredible Davis Cup championship, the first in our country’s history, orchestrated by an experienced Team Captain Frank Dancevic and inspirational players in Félix Auger-Aliassime, Denis Shapovalov, Vasek Pospisil, Gabriel Diallo and Alexis Galarneau. Their triumph was years in the making having followed in the footsteps of the many players that have gone before. Congratulations to them and every tennis fan in Canada, who can now legitimately claim the mantle of World Champions. On the women’s side, our Billie Jean King Cup team put on a clinic in Vancouver last April to secure a 4-0 victory over Latvia and advance to the Finals in Glasgow, Scotland. Although they were knocked out after a round-robin loss to eventual champions Switzerland, no one would bet against Heidi El Tabakh and her talented team going all the way in 2023.
On the WTA and ATP Tours, our athletes continued to excel in 2022. Leylah Annie Fernandez sealed her second WTA title by repeating in Monterrey and reached a career-high No. 13 in August. Her run to the quarter-finals of Roland-Garros was a particular highlight. Bianca Andreescu reached the final in Bad Homburg, while Gabriela Dabrowski continued to show why she’s one of the best doubles players in the world, winning titles in Madrid, Tokyo and Chennai and finishing as runner-up in Rome and San Diego. Meanwhile, Rebecca Marino’s continued comeback also saw her compete in the main draw at all four Grand Slams. On the men’s side, Auger-Aliassime won his first four ATP titles, including three in consecutive weeks, and secured his spot at the year-end ATP Finals. Shapovalov reached two finals, in Vienna and Seoul, and remained inside the ATP’s Top 20 for almost the entire year, while Pospisil continued to be a consistent performer at the highest level and won two Challengers, including in Drummondville. I would also like to reserve special congratulations for Victoria Mboko who, at 16-years-old, won her very first professional title at the Saskatoon Challenger in July. Fellow young Canadian Diallo also collected his first professional winner’s trophy at the Granby National Bank Championships.
It was a great pleasure to see the National Bank Open presented by Rogers, the ‘engine’ of Tennis Canada, return as full-capacity events in Montreal and Toronto in 2022. Both cities broke attendance and sales records, and fans were able to watch the best players from across the world at IGA Stadium and Sobeys Stadium, marking the first year our Toronto event has been hosted at the venue under its new guise following an expansion of Tennis Canada’s partnership agreement with Empire. Our tournaments are on firm footing having secured major funding of $9.3 million in Toronto and $10 million in Montreal, granted by the Government of Canada as part of the Major Festivals and Events Support Initiative (MFESI). Following COVID-19, these investments will enable event organizers to safely welcome visitors and be better positioned for long-term success, while providing spillover economic and job benefits to businesses across the region.
Off the court, Tennis Canada launched several new initiatives in 2022 that we can all be proud of. Mental Timeout, a game-changing wellness project focusing on the mental health of all those involved in tennis in Canada, was brought to life at the National Bank Open, including the Positive Court Pledge initiative. We also had the privilege of hosting the inaugural UNMATCHED Gender Equity in Sports Conference featuring tennis legend Billie Jean King and presented by National Bank, bringing together leaders, influencers, athletes, advocates, and academics from across Canada and the world to celebrate the place of women and girls in sport. Our capacity building efforts were also accelerated as the first three Year-Round Community Tennis Court projects were completed in partnership with Rogers in Markham (ON), Ancaster (ON) and Calgary (AB), with Waterloo (QC) set to follow along with four further new projects ready for the 2023-24 winter season. We also launched the National Bank Play Your Court Program through which local communities across the country can apply to receive funding to revitalize their outdoor community tennis courts, with the first completed project taking place in the City of Brampton.
On behalf of the Board, I would like to reiterate that tennis in Canada has never been stronger or had more momentum thanks to the inspired leadership of Michael Downey and all our colleagues at Tennis Canada. We are thoroughly looking forward to what 2023 has to bring as we continue to fulfill Tennis Canada’s vision to be a world-leading tennis nation and mission to lead the growth of tennis in Canada.