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Sports

Professional tennis: A beginner’s guide to the 2024 season

The reality of tennis at the highest level.

It may seem as simple as hitting a fuzzy yellow ball over a net, but in reality, tennis is arguably the most grueling and demanding professional sport.

The professional tennis season calendar for 2024 is loaded. It comprises approximately 60 events in about 30 different countries, played on three different surfaces (hard-court, clay-court, and grass-court). Tournaments are categorized based on their prestige, prize money, and ranking points awarded. The categories include Grand Slam tournaments otherwise known as Majors (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, US Open), Masters 1000 tournaments, 500-level tournaments, and 250-level tournaments.

Tennis has a unique scoring system. Games make up sets, and sets make up matches. A set is won by the first player to claim six games. Once a point is won, scoring starts at 15, then progresses to 30, then 40, and finally, the game. If both players reach 40, it’s called “deuce.” After deuce, a player must win two consecutive points to claim the game. Matches are typically decided by whoever wins the best of three sets. The only instance where a match is decided by the best of five sets is at Majors, but only for the men, as has been tradition for decades.

Tennis players have similar goals—to win tournaments and to increase their world ranking. Winning one of the four Grand Slam tournaments is known as the pinnacle of tennis, and only a very small percentage of players can say they’ve reached it. Not only does the sport require physical toughness, but being mentally tough is equally as important.  

The 2024 season is off to a rocking start. Both the men’s and the women’s competitions have seen thrilling moments, whirlwinds of emotions, emerging talents, as well as solidified greatness.

As it does every year, the season begins on the other side of the world, in Australia. Competitors head Down Under early to get acclimated to Aussie conditions. This includes practice tournaments in Brisbane and Adelaide, followed by the first Major of the year in Melbourne.

On the women’s side, world number two Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus won her second straight Australian Open title, which also happened to be her second career Major title. It was a very straightforward title run for her, as she won the tournament without losing one set.

On the men’s side, this year’s Australian Open was one of the most exciting Majors in recent history. A record tying 35 matches went to a deciding fifth set, with one of them lasting four hours and twenty-three minutes, while ending at 3:39 a.m. Australian time. In the end, it was the 22-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner who came out on top beating the likes of world number one and 24-time Major champion Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals, followed by a win against world number four Daniil Medvedev in the finals. This was the first Major win of Sinner’s young career, and certainly not the last.

Players are currently competing in what’s known as the Sunshine Swing. This includes back-to-back Masters 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells, California, and Miami, Florida. They will then head to Europe until mid-July. The rest of the 2024 tennis season is undoubtedly going to be action-packed.

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HERstory Lesson Opinions

HERstory Lesson: Billie Jean King

How she humbled a male athlete’s ego in a post-second-wave feminist climate

Billie Jean King is a former American tennis player and six-time Wimbledon champion. Active from the 1970s to the 1990s, she also won seven Federation Cups, the international team competition for women’s tennis, now named after her. She is considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time.

Despite all of this, King is mostly remembered for a match she played against a 55-year-old man when she was 29.

Dubbed the ‘Battle of the Sexes,’ the match was initiated by top men’s tennis player Bobby Riggs, who claimed “there’s no way a woman can play tennis with a good man tennis player.”

Riggs, who played in the 1930s and 1940s, said he could beat any woman in tennis and challenged King to play for $100,000 on Sept. 20, 1973.

King, who campaigned for gender equality in women’s sports, first rejected the challenge. However, after Riggs challenged and beat Margaret Court, she accepted.

Coming out of the second-wave feminist movement, one that focused on equality and discrimination, this match held important cultural significance on the gender politics that reflected the social climate at the time.

Riggs said it best himself in a Tonight Show interview, where he said that he planned to “set back [the] women’s lib movement about another 20 years.”

When asked by host Johnny Carson if he liked women, Riggs replied “I like them real good in the bedroom, the kitchen and when they bring you the slippers and the pipe.” Interrupted by a mix of cheers and boos, he continued and said: “I really think the best way to handle women is to keep them pregnant and this way, they don’t worry about getting out in the men’s world and competing for jobs and trying to get equal money and all that baloney.”

Although some might say that Riggs was just playing into a character to bring hype to the game, we cannot deny that comments like these would not pass on any of today’s prime-time television talk shows, jokes or not.

Whether an intimidation tactic or not, it worked as King said “I thought it would set us back 50 years if I didn’t win that match. It would ruin the women’s tour and affect all women’s self-esteem.”

90 million viewers tuned in from 37 countries to watch the Battle of the Sexes go down in Houston Astrodome. To put it into perspective, the Super Bowl that year received 53 million viewers on average.

It was in front of this large audience that King beat Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, which makes this statement by Riggs even more delightful: “Would you believe that she said she could take the pressure and play for the money as well as I can?” Yes, Bobby, yes, she can.

This was more than just a tennis match — it was a significant cultural event that helped garner greater respect and recognition of female athletes.

Although King recognized the importance of this match, she said that “to beat a 55-year-old guy was no thrill for me. The thrill was exposing a lot of new people to tennis.”

Indeed, it is important not to forget that King did so much more than just win against an old misogynist at tennis. She was at the forefront of the Women’s Tennis Association, convincing her colleagues to form a players’ union. She founded the WomenSports magazine and Women’s Sports Foundation, an organization promoting the advancement of women and young girls in sports.

As King said it best, “In the ’70s, we had to make it acceptable for people to accept girls and women as athletes. We had to make it OK for them to be active. Those were much scarier times for females in sports.”

There were scarier times indeed, as even King’s sexual orientation became a subject of headlines in the 1980s. After a palimony suit was brought forth by one of her lovers, King had to come out publicly as bisexual, which made her lose $2 million in commercial endorsements.

At the end of the day, I think her story, despite being heroic and bad-ass, goes to show just how much women need to prove themselves outside of their sport in order to make an impact outside of it.

In a 1984 interview with Parade Magazine, King said, “My only regret is that I had to do too much off the court. Deep down, I wonder how good I really could have been if I [had] concentrated just on tennis.”

This only opens the door to one question: what are we waiting for to recognize women athletes as athletes and stop expecting them to also be advocates and publicists for their own sports?

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Sports

Colour Commentary: Canadians shine at U.S. Open

The final Grand Slam event of the year put Montreal athletes in the spotlight

The 2021 U.S. Open Tennis Championships were held in New York City, but it was the Montreal-natives that captivated the North American masses at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The 141st edition of the fourth and final Grand Slam event of the year saw Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez reach the women’s finals against Great Britain’s Emma Raducanu. The 19-year-old Fernandez lost in straight sets rather convincingly but would climb from 73rd in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) rankings before the tournament to 28th following her inspiring finals run. 

On the other hand, the 18-year-old Raducanu went from qualifier to champion on Saturday, winning all her matches without dropping a single set. She also became the youngest female Grand Slam champion since Maria Sharapova in 2004. 

Here’s some more historical bombshells about their meeting on Saturday; Raducanu and Fernandez’s matchup was the first major final between two teenagers since Serena Williams, 17, beat Martina Hingis, 18, at the 1999 U.S. Open. It was also the first finals in the professional era, which began in 1968, to feature two unseeded women. 

So it’s safe to say the women stole the show, but what about the men?

Montreal’s very own Felix Auger-Aliassime made an improbable and exciting run to the semifinals but lost to the eventual tournament winner on the men’s side, Russia’s Daniil Medvedev. Even so, Auger-Aliassime overcame a big hurdle in his young career by making it as far as he did.

If the women’s final was refreshing and exhilarating, the men’s final was predictable simply by comparison: world number one Novak Djokovic against the number two ranked Medvedev. 

But the competitive stakes couldn’t have been higher. 

Djokovic was chasing something that hadn’t been done in over 50 years; a calendar Grand Slam. The Serbian tennis icon won the first three majors of the year coming into the tournament, while Medvedev was looking to cement his place in history by winning his first Grand Slam. 

Medvedev won, an outcome that wasn’t entirely out of the question given his status as number two in the world. What was shocking to most spectators was how dominant he looked against Djokovic in his victory by straight sets. Medvedev dictated the finals with his serve and never seemed phased despite the pressure of the moment. 

Over the past few years, Canadian tennis players have shown an ever-increasing ability to perform well on the biggest stages in the sport, displaying not only the consistency it takes to succeed but also the skill needed to be the best. 

The 2021 U.S. Open was another feather to Canada’s impressive tennis resume, and I’m excited to see how the athletes and the nation’s fanbase develop from here.

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Sports

Thank you The Concordian

Closing on a great chapter with The Concordian

I had always been told that getting experience in journalism was important before finishing university and trying to find a job. My time with The Concordian these last two-and-a-half years has been one of the best experiences I could hope for as an aspiring sports journalist.

During my first semester at Concordia University, I attended a conference in which The Concordian’s team at the time spoke to us about the paper. Nicholas Di Giovanni, sports editor at the time, talked about the sports section of the newspaper and how to get involved.

It didn’t take long for me to start covering Concordia Stingers games and writing articles for The Concordian. I saw an opportunity to share my passion for sports with everyone. I was lucky enough to quickly be offered the assistant sports editor position in my first semester on campus, and for that, I want to thank Di Giovanni.

His trust, but also his help and time during my first year with The Concordian, is something I can’t put into words. I don’t know what exactly he saw in me, but by giving me this role, he helped me start a great chapter with The Concordian.

To have the chance to cover Stingers games and interview athletes and coaches has been something really special. It was especially unique during that first year as assistant sports editor, since I wasn’t doing a lot of sports interviews on a regular basis.

It was no surprise I would apply for the sports editor position in my second year. I didn’t get the role, as I remained assistant, but it ended up being the best thing for me. This time, I was working with Matthew Ohayon.

To have two different editors in two years with the team was really helpful. It showed me different working methods and made me learn even more. I quickly realized that there are so many ways to approach things and work with stories.

I think it really helped me with who I am today, writing this last piece as sports editor of The Concordian. When I applied for the role again, in my third year, I was way more ready for this position than I was when I applied at the beginning of my second.

I’m not saying you should not apply for an editor position in your first two years. However, you should not be ashamed at all of being in an assistant role for consecutive years. After all, I would be lying if I told you that my goal, when starting out with The Concordian, wasn’t to end up leading the sports section one day.

I was looking forward to writing weekly Colour Commentary pieces, deciding pitches and learning even more things again this year. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing me to look at things a bit differently than I imagined them, it’s been a wonderful experience.

I’ve been blessed to have Liam Sharp as assistant sports editor. In his first year with The Concordian, Sharp has brought some of the most original stories I’ve seen for our sports section since I joined the staff. He’s behaved like he’s been on the team for a few years now. For that, I thank you my friend. Your dedication and professionalism have been remarkable all year long.

I can’t believe it’s already been two-and-a-half years since I joined the team. I also can’t believe those are the last words I’m writing for The Concordian. I wish there were more stories to write so I could ask more grammar and structure questions to my copy editor friend Abigail Candelora.

To be honest, I’ve probably been asking questions every week to the copy editing team. For that, I want to say thank you, but also sorry. I owe you all a coffee when we finally can meet in person.

To this year’s staff, you’ve been amazing. I’ve never seen such an amazing group of people, full of energy and willing to share ideas each week. It’s amazing to think we’ve never met, because it feels like that’s not the case. This has been a really special group. I’m not the one who always talks or gives his opinion, but I’ve always felt included in everything. I’ve always felt like everyone was part of the team and important.

To Lillian Roy, Chloë Lalonde and Jacob Carey, a huge thank you. Please, never change, because you truly are great people. You treated us all fairly and have always been there when there was a problem. As leaders of The Concordian for this academic year, I could not have asked for anyone better.

On that, it’s a wrap folks. Don’t forget the Montreal Canadiens play the Calgary Flames tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at the Bell Centre. For my part, I’m probably going to be on a tennis court as usual. See ya.

 

Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion

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Sports

A great week for Bianca Andreescu

Andreescu shows great signs despite injury

Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu played at this year’s Miami Open, her first Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) final since she won her major US Open title in 2019. Unfortunately for Andreescu, she was forced to retire at the end of the second set because of an ankle injury. She was trailing world number one Ashleigh Barty 6-3, 4-0.

Barty delivered an impressive performance, which gave Andreescu, who was already fighting ankle pain, absolutely no chance. It was the first time these two played each other.

Despite the loss, it’s been a great week and tournament for the Canadian. She won impressive matches against top players in order to reach the final. Andreescu didn’t play much in 2020, not only because of COVID-19, but also an injury. To see her perform the way she did in Miami will surely give hope to Canadian tennis fans.

She defeated players like two-time Grand Slam champion Garbiñe Muguruza and top 20 player Maria Sakkari. In both of those matches, she had to elevate her game to win important points that ultimately decided the winner.

Luckily, Andreescu said her injury is nothing serious. It’s been a while since she had to play so many matches in such a short period of time for a tournament, so to see her body take a hit is no surprise.

If Andreescu’s week at the Miami Open is synonymous with her performances this season, she’s definitely going to be a player to watch, especially during Grand Slam tournaments.

 

Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion

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Sports

Tennis players still can’t play in red zones

Despite the resumption of many activities, tennis is still not allowed to take place in the Greater Montreal area

With vaccinations for COVID-19 accelerating and the spring season coming up, Quebec is allowing more and more activities to resume, depending on your location. However, despite having shopping malls, cinemas and museums open, many sports like tennis are still prohibited in the Greater Montreal area.

This has frustrated sports centres such as Tennis 13 in Laval, which keeps posting videos on Facebook about how safe and healthy tennis is for people. They also shared a photo that compares the number of people in some places currently open, versus the number of people that would be allowed in a sports centre like theirs.

Before the curfew was put into place, people could play tennis, badminton and some other indoor, individual sports in Montreal. We haven’t been given clear reasons as to why these activities have been prohibited since the curfew’s creation, which is frustrating since they could be taking place safely in the daytime.

Many people are currently worrying about childrens’ health; their favourite sport often represents everything to them. Some school-related sports recently restarted for those in orange zones, but for people in the Greater Montreal area, it might just be too late when we decide to reopen sports centres and allow back some activities.

People who hoped to have their favourite winter sports back, like hockey, have probably already thrown in the towel due to the time of the year we find ourselves in. Fortunately, as spring is coming up, sports like tennis can be played outside shortly.

 

Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion

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Sports

Tennis is back on!

The ATP and WTA should offer great shows this year, especially at Grand Slam tournaments

After a short offseason of just over a month, tennis is back in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). Some small tournaments were played in January, but it’s with the just concluded ATP Cup, and the now underway Australian Open — the first Grand Slam of the season — that tennis fans can really feel like their favourite sport is back.

Except for the travel involved, tennis is one of few sports with limited contact, which helped the ATP and WTA run almost as normal these past few months. In order to avoid the spread of COVID-19, adaptations for this season include things such as quarantines for players when arriving in the country of a tournament, and possible limitation rules on the number of staff ― coaches and fitness trainers, for example ― they can bring with them on site.

Compared to last year, the ATP Cup and Australian Open were pushed by two weeks, asking players to quarantine themselves for 14 days prior to the ATP Cup and the Grand Slam. Most tournaments are currently planned to be played this year, but we might see dates vary depending on the circumstances.


ATP

All eyes will be on the Big Three for the 2021 season. World number one Novak Djokovic will look to pursue his domination at the ATP. Djokovic has been leading the ATP rankings since 2019, and has been accumulating wins and titles at an impressive speed these past years. He’ll be a threat at the Australian Open, where he’s won eight of his 17 Grand Slam titles.

Rafael Nadal, who leads the men’s list with Roger Federer for most Grand Slam victories with 20, could perhaps rewrite history at the 2021 edition of Roland-Garros. Nadal has won 13 Roland-Garros titles, winning 100 of his 102 matches there.

Federer, who will turn 40 this season, announced to a Swiss radio broadcast that he will return to action in March, at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha. Federer has undergone two right knee surgeries since February 2020 and hasn’t played since late January of that year.

This could be his last season. Federer will definitely look at Wimbledon as his last chance to add a 21st Grand Slam to his collection, if that’s the case, as he’s won eight times there.

This season should be a promising one for rising star Jannik Sinner. Currently ranked 32nd in the world, Sinner won his first ATP title last year. He began 2019 ranked 553rd, and was already 78th in January 2020. At age 19, Sinner already has wins against top 10 players like Stéfanos Tsitsipás and Alexander Zverev.

WTA

Canadian star Bianca Andreescu is set to make her return to action at the Australian Open. Andreescu hasn’t participated in any tournament since October 2019. Having dominated the summer of 2019 with three titles, including the Rogers Cup in Toronto and the U.S. Open — her first Grand Slam and the first Canadian player to win one — Andreescu is now considered one of the best in the WTA.

Compared to ATP tournaments, things are much more unpredictable for women. Both Grand Slam and smaller tournaments offer surprises and impressive results all the time. In the three Grand Slam tournaments played last year, there were two first-time winners, including 19-year-old Iga Świątek, winning her first WTA title ever with a triumph at Roland-Garros.

Sofia Kenin is the other player who won her first major title last year. Ranked 4th in the world already, Kenin could be the next superstar on the women’s side. She not only has talent, but also character on and off the court, which is what the WTA might need with legend and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams near retirement.

 

Graphic by Lily Cowper

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Sports

Rafael Nadal wins 20th Grand Slam title, ties for most in ATP history

The race for the most Grand Slam titles has never been so tight

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, known collectively as the Big 3, have dominated the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) for years. Despite all the great names in men’s tennis history, the Big 3 lead for the most ever Grand Slam titles won.

By winning his 13th Roland-Garros title on Oct. 11, a record in professional tennis, Nadal has joined Federer at the top of the list, tied with 20 Grand Slam titles each.

With all members of the Big 3 at different stages of their careers, it’s still unclear who’s going to finish with most triumphs. While both Federer and Nadal lead with 20, Djokovic’s not so far behind with 17.

At 33 years old, Djokovic is the youngest of the group. He’s arguably the only one who’s been able to compete against Federer and Nadal in every match, even beating them on many occasions, including in Grand Slam finals. Most of Djokovic’s impressive ATP records wouldn’t even be discussed today if it weren’t for his victories against Nadal and Federer along the way. As he’s just three Grand Slam titles away from tying them at 20, we can only imagine what may happen if he’s still playing after the other two retire.

Nadal, 34, may or may not finish his career with the most Grand Slam titles among the three, but what’s sure is that he has good chances of passing Federer if he stays healthy. Recognized as the best player ever on clay, Nadal could perhaps add a 21st major with a 14th Roland-Garros next year, as he’s won 100 of his 102 matches there.

It’s likely that Nadal will start reducing the number of tournaments he plays in a season. Federer has been doing so for a few years now, skipping almost all clay-court tournaments in order to better prepare for grass court tournaments and the annual U.S. Open on hard court in late summer. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Nadal start skipping the grass part of the season, and just focus on important clay and hard court tournaments.

Even though Federer said he will come back in 2021 despite currently recovering from a second knee surgery this year, it’s hard to know how the 39-year-old will perform in what could easily be his farewell season. In an optimistic scenario, Federer could add to his list of major titles by winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon, which he’s won six and eight times respectively. Federer won both tournaments in 2017, and his 20th Grand Slam at the Australian Open in 2018 when he defended his title. Those seem to be his favourite majors, as his last Grand Slam other than those two was in 2009.

All members of the Big 3 have a case to finish on top for the most Grand Slam titles. They’re all at different stages of their careers, and all seem to dominate a different playing surface. Only time will tell where they end up.

 

Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion

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Sports

Colour Commentary: Tennis is back

The U.S. Open was played without fans in Flushing Meadows, New York

The 2020 tennis season started with the new ATP Cup tournament, as well as the Australian Open, the first of the four annual Grand Slams in tennis.

On Aug. 20, after five months of postponed and cancelled tournaments, tennis was finally back on for the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). Both Associations suspended their calendar’s tournaments until August due to the high risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The first tournament since the shutdown, the Western & Southern Open, normally held in Cincinnati, was played without fans in the U.S. Open site in New York.

Despite 2019 champions Rafael Nadal and Bianca Andreescu’s notable absences, the tournament provided a bit of a return to normalcy for the sport, and offered many surprises and great moments.

Speaking of surprises, the road to an 18th Grand Slam title was more than open for world number one Novak Djokovic. Without Nadal and Roger Federer, Djokovic was favoured to win the title right away, as no player apart from these three has won a Grand Slam since Stan Wawrinka did in 2016.

However, Djokovic got disqualified from his Round of 16 match for hitting a line judge with a ball. That meant a new Grand Slam champion other than the Big Three was going to be crowned, four years after Wawrinka. This year, it was Dominic Thiem’s turn to shine, as he lifted his first career major title on the men’s side.

Canadian players Denis Shapovalov, Félix Auger-Aliassime and Vasek Pospisil all finished with career-best results at the U.S. Open. Milos Raonic, the fourth and last Canadian of the tournament, was eliminated by Pospisil in the second round.

In the WTA, the tournament was being played without Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep, world number one and two respectively, as well as four other members of the top 10 — not surprising that we’ve had so many great firsts.

For the first time in WTA history, three mothers reached quarterfinals at the same Grand Slam for the first time, with Serena Williams, Tsvetana Pironkova and Victoria Azarenka all in action. For Pironkova, it was her first tournament since 2017, as she took a break from tennis to give birth to her first child. Pironkova just started back training at the beginning of the year.

Final thoughts:

For the first tournament in a while, despite the nearly half-year hiatus, the U.S. Open surprised me with its organization and preparation. It made it through the two weeks of the competition without COVID-19 problems, and showed the tennis world that it’s possible to have sports despite not playing them in the same conditions as before.

 

Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion @the.beta.lab

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Sports

Amidst COVID-19, a look back at some great sports moments

Have you ever heard the saying “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone?”

Many sports fans around the world had this realization this past week, as they saw, one after another, their favourite sports teams and leagues suspended their activities due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

At this point, the vast majority of sports events have been cancelled. The Indian Wells Masters 1000 tennis tournament of the BNP Paribas Open was one of the first sports competitions to be officially cancelled. It was first announced that it would be played behind closed doors, but a confirmed case of the COVID-19 at the Indian Wells venue forced the organizers to cancel the event a few hours before its start.

As a tennis fan, it was a shock to see one of the biggest competitions of the season outright cancelled. At first, I thought it was a drastic decision, but then came to understand that the tournament wasn’t worth the risk, considering the severity of the virus.

I thought there would still be other sports to watch, like hockey, soccer, and even other tennis tournaments that wouldn’t be cancelled. Yet, in a matter of days, almost all were postponed or cancelled.

This is a unique situation we’re going through, and hopefully we won’t have to deal with this ever again. These moments make us realize how important our passions are to us, and help us gather together and cherish what we love.

I’m used to waking up in the morning and watching sports recaps and talk shows. I would normally talk about what happened in sports the previous day with my friends before going to class, and then prepare to watch a game in the evening.

It’s obviously impossible to bring fresh sports news to the public right now. However, as we’re looking for things to talk about other than COVID-19, here are some recent sports moments that should bring some happiness in your day.

 

First up is Sidney Crosby’s historic “Golden Goal” at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. Team Canada faced Team USA for gold in men’s hockey. Tied 2-2, Crosby scored the game-winning goal with 12:20 left in overtime, lifting an entire nation into a celebration, with a goal that changed the history of hockey and the Olympic Games forever. Even 20 years later, people talk about that goal when celebrating the 2010 Olympic Games of Vancouver. The rivalry between Team Canada and Team USA continued to grow since then.

In women’s hockey, the Canadian national team won the Olympic gold at Sochi 2014, in what has become an iconic game against their American rivals. Trailing by one with less than a minute to play, Team USA hit the post when trying to secure what would have been a 3-1 score with an empty-net goal. Team Canada took advantage of it, as Marie-Philip Poulin tied the game seconds later to force overtime. Poulin then scored her second of the game in overtime, securing gold for Canada.

Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu made history last September when she won her first ever Grand Slam title at the 2019 US Open versus Serena Williams. She became the first ever Canadian Grand Slam title winner.

Next is this legendary bat flip from Jose Bautista in 2015, in Game 5 of the American League Division Series against the Texas Rangers. Bautista’s three-run homer gave the Toronto Blue Jays a 6-3 lead late in the game.

The NFL sees its fair share of spectacular catches. One of the best (if not the best) was this one by Odell Beckham Jr. in 2015. Despite being held to one-hand while being interfered with, Beckham Jr. managed to catch the ball and get a touchdown.

One of the most discussed plays of recent years in football came when the Seattle Seahawks faced the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl XLIX. With a second down and goal, the Seahawks opted for a passing play despite the fact they would lose the game if it were to be intercepted. They also had the always-entertaining Marshawn Lynch at running back, which only made many fans more upset. Surely, they thought, Lynch would have made it to the end zone safely.

Unfortunately for the Seahawks and their fans, Russell Wilson’s pass was intercepted by the Patriots’ Malcolm Butler, ensuring his team’s Super Bowl victory.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a real football list without this play between quarterback Case Keenum and wide receiver Stefon Diggs. In the last seconds of overtime in a game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints during a National Football Conference divisional playoff game in 2018, Diggs caught Keenum’s pass while his defender missed their tackle, and ran down the field unopposed for a 61-yard game-winning touchdown.

In golf, Tiger Woods made history once again last year when he won the 2019 Masters Tournament. This was a historic moment, not only for golf, but for sports in general. His triumph was celebrated by many fans around the world, especially considering the tough years he went through preceding this victory.

This picture also went viral on social media. The first image shows Woods hugging his father after winning the Master Tournament in 1997, while the second shows him and his son, shortly after his 2019 victory.

What about the two-point buzzer-beater shot from Kawhi Leonard. As the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers were heading to overtime in game seven of the NBA’s Eastern Conference semifinals, Leonard gave the Raptors the win, shooting the ball in the basket with less than a second left in the game. That put the score at 92-90 and pushed the Raptors to the next round. The team would go on to win their next series and the league’s championship.

Finally, at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games of Rio, Canadian Penny Oleksiak lived what us common folk would call “a fairytale” born of hard work and talent. Only 16 at that time, Oleksiak won four medals, including the gold medal in the women’s 100m freestyle event.

 

Graphic by @sundaeghost

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Sports

A lifelong passion for tennis

One of the greatest tennis tournaments in the world is underway in Melbourne, Australia from Jan. 14 to Feb. 2. The best male and female athletes, from the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) respectively, will battle for the first of four Grand Slams this season.

For tennis fans like me, the feeling of watching the Australian Open before going to bed, and then waking up early in the morning to see that there are still matches going on is just amazing. That’s one cool thing about professional tennis––it feels like it’s always on. There are tournaments everywhere in the world, every week from January to November.

I started playing tennis nine years ago, when I was 11 years old. I first played hockey until the age of seven, but quickly realized that team sports weren’t for me.

My parents asked me if I wanted to try tennis lessons, knowing it would be impossible for me to not play any sport. As a hyperactive, I simply can’t go through a day without doing any sort of physical activity. Even today, sitting on a chair for a two-hour class is a lot to ask of me.

When I started playing, I knew practically nothing about the sport except we had to hit the ball on the court with our racket in order to win points. With time and practice, I learned a lot and saw how unique tennis was.

I started watching matches on television whenever I could. Current first-ranked player in the world Rafael Nadal became my favourite player, and I started to analyze his style and technique in order to help my own game grow. A funny thing is that I never realized at that time that Nadal plays left-handed, which I also do. I don’t know if that unconsciously influenced my choice, but considering that in the WTA, left-handed Angelique Kerber is my favourite player, we can say it’s quite a coincidence.

I took lessons for about three years, and participated in tournaments. I was lucky to meet a few people of my caliber. We became friends, and then decided to stop taking lessons in order to just play together in the summer.

I’m now playing tennis whenever I can. In the summer, I used to go out and play every day; sometimes two or three times a day. During the winter, those same friends and I practice indoors. For me, playing tennis has become as routine as sleeping or eating.

Last summer, I had the privilege of covering the Rogers Cup in Montreal. The Rogers Cup is a Masters 1000 tournament in the ATP and WTA. There are nine Masters 1000s, representing the top tournaments in the tennis calendar after the Grand Slams and the ATP and WTA Finals.

Each summer, the Rogers Cup is played in both Montreal and Toronto, with men and women alternating cities every year. I covered the men’s tournament in 2019, and it was simply amazing. It wasn’t my first Rogers Cup experience, as I had gone to the previous five or six editions, but to be there as a journalist was something else.

I was with other journalists all week, analyzing and talking tennis every minute. After every match, we were going to the press room to ask questions to the players, and get their thoughts on different things.

I simply watched during the first few press conferences. I’ll never forget when Nadal had his first press conference of the tournament. Of course, I was there, just like every single media member filling the room.

I’ve never been emotional or expressive in life. I can be extremely happy about something, but I’m that person whose face won’t necessarily express it. I’ve met and seen many professional athletes and stars in my life, Wayne Gretzky being an example, but I never had trouble approaching and talking to them.

However, when I saw Nadal entering the room that day, I just couldn’t believe it. My idol was right there in front of me.

After some press conferences, and after understanding how things were done in the conference press room, I started asking questions to players. I broke the ice with current fourth-ranked player Daniil Medvedev, before asking questions to a few other players. I also decided to ask the first question of Nadal’s conference after his win over Fabio Fognini in the quarter finals.

It’s great to see the popularity of tennis growing in Canada. Canadian stars like Bianca Andreescu, Félix Auger-Aliassime, Denis Shapovalov and Milos Raonic are really helping to promote tennis in the country.

Hockey has always been Canada’s most popular sport. Sports like tennis are sometimes unknown, but once people start playing or simply following the game, they discover a new passion for something they never thought they would before.

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Sports

Concordia tennis continues to grow

Team manager Dominic Labelle is excited about the future of the program

Last year, Concordia’s tennis team had a disappointing season as both their men’s and women’s teams finished last in their respective divisions. This year, however, team manager and women’s coach Dominic Labelle believes both teams can bounce back, and are poised to have a great year.

“My goal for the girls is to not only make the provincial championships, but be on the top of the rankings for the whole season,” Labelle said. “For the guys, the goal is to definitely make the playoffs and remain in the top four in the league. We’re ready to produce some really good results this season.”

Labelle, who coached both teams last year, is getting help from former men’s team player Roger Hernandez, who has stepped up to coach the men for this season. Labelle said Hernandez already has a tight bond with his players, and that everyone is committed to having a successful year.

On Sept. 17, 31 men and 10 women showed up to the open tryouts, vying for a spot on the squad. Labelle said that many of his players from last year were guaranteed spots on the team, which left only a few positions open for those who came to the tryouts.

Labelle is happy with his new players, adding that, on the women’s side, he has recruited three new players. One of those players is Brazilian Rafaela Panizza who has played in professional tournaments.

“Two of the players who joined on the women’s team come from the States. They had scholarships there so it’s great. They increase the level of our team,” Labelle said. “The other player has one [World Tennis Association (WTA)] point so it’s amazing because, for us, it’s great exposure. It helps to grow our level [of competitiveness].”

The tennis season only starts in January, but according to Labelle, both teams are already training as if the season were in full swing. Before the start of the season, the teams train twice a week for 11 weeks straight in order to get in shape.

Labelle said, in addition to practices, the team has added a new component to their training, thanks to a sponsorship with a company called FitLikeQ. The company will provide the team with consultations as well as training plans in order to improve the team’s physical fitness.

Tennis manager and women’s coach Dominic Labelle is excited about the upcoming tennis season. Stock images from Kelsey Litwin.

“They will help us the whole 30 weeks of the season,” Labelle said. “If anybody has questions when it comes to training or needs rehab for an injury, they’ll be there. It’s nice because they will help us stay fit and [get to our] peak during our matches.”

In addition to the new training program, Labelle and his team are excited about the prospect of being part of the Stingers family. Since the team’s inception in March 2011, the program has been self-sufficient, and is not considered a varsity or club team. This means the team pays for their own uniforms and has always had to look for sponsorships outside of the university.

Labelle said that the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) is considering adding tennis to its official list of sports due to more universities sporting their own teams. As a result of this possibility, Labelle will be meeting with Stingers associate director John Bower to discuss the potential of allowing the tennis team to dawn the trademark “C” as well as the maroon and gold Stingers colours.

“Players will get more into it if they feel they represent the school,” Labelle said.

For Labelle, being a Concordia team is nice but being a part of the Stingers would give the team more legitimacy and get them to the next level.

“For me getting that logo would be a box to check off because it’s my fourth year with the team,” Labelle added.

Before the season starts in January, the men’s team will play an exhibition tournament against the École de Technologie Supérieure on Oct. 9. Labelle said the team is also in the midst of scheduling men’s and women’s matches against the Université de Sherbrooke for Oct. 8.

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