When people think about tennis, the Olympics aren’t usually the first thing on their mind.
The quadrennial competition lacks the pedigree of the Grand Slams and may not even be considered the premier international event.
In fact, Canada, for now, is the world champion in both men’s and women’s tennis, having won its first Davis Cup last year before winning the Billie Jean King Cup for the first time earlier this month.
It all begs the question: what’s next?
“I could say Olympics. It would be amazing for a boy or a girl or both to win a medal at the Olympics. I could say that’s our next goal or whatever. And yeah, that would be a great goal.” said Sylvain Bruneau, outgoing director of women’s tennis at Tennis Canada.
“But I think the goal is to see Bianca, yes, she won the US Open, but establish herself and stay at the highest level and the same with Felix.” [Auger-Aliassime] And more players.”
“We cannot be satisfied”
Tennis at the Paris Olympics next summer may be more intriguing than most, as it will be played at Roland Garros, the clay-court venue of the French Open.
But if recent team victories in tennis show anything, it’s that the Canadians can be the ones to crash the party, maybe even on the Olympic podium.
“It is a really achievable goal and shows that tennis in the country has made incredible progress. But we cannot be satisfied. We need to want more,” said Bruneau.
Well, more begins this week as the Canadians attempt to complete the defense of their Davis Cup title. They will face a team from Finland led by world No. 71 Emil Ruusuvuori in the quarterfinals on Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET. Live coverage of the entire tournament from Malaga, Spain, is available on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.
SEE | Canada wins the 2022 Davis Cup:
If Canada wins, they will face either Australia or the Czech Republic in the semifinals. Novak Djokovic’s Serbia or a deep Italian team could wait in the final.
Canada is led by Auger-Aliassime, number 29 in the ranking, who is joined by Milos Raonic, Vasek Pospisil, Gabriel Diallo and Alexis Galarneau.
It will not be an easy task for Canada to win a second consecutive title. But Galarneau, 24, who won all five of his group stage matches, said his team is up to the task.
“Seeing how Félix, Denis [Shapovalov] and Vasek handled that moment [last year] It helps us and helps the team prepare at this time. We feel good here in Malaga, so we will try to enjoy and represent Canada,” he said.
But as a young player, Galarneau understands how the past successes of players like Raonic and Aleksandra Wozniak, who was once ranked No. 21, helped influence the current generation.
He said Canada’s current position as men’s and women’s world champions is “huge.”
“I don’t think anyone would have imagined that. So we’re very grateful for the structure that was created 20 or 30 years ago and I think it’s the result of all the hard work that everyone has put in and it’s nice to be a player and be a part of right now,” Galarneau said.
SEE | Canada wins first Billie Jean King Cup:
Yet another victory on the Davis Cup stage could set the stage for the growth of tennis in Canada.
Bruneau said victories on the world stage, including the Olympics, can create a “tradition.”
“The more the players do well, really well, the more we talk about tennis, the more interest it will create, the more people will watch it on television and I think the more people will do it.” pick up the racket and play competitively or recreationally,” she said.
However, it is also imperative that the Canadiens maintain that success throughout professional seasons, remain relevant and compete in the majors.
“We have a group of players who can play on any day against the best countries and do well, so I think it shows that tennis is going in the right direction,” Bruneau said. “It’s obviously continuous work. You can never stop, relax and take your foot off the pedal, you always have to push yourself.”
Galarneau, a native of Laval, Que., ranked No. 202, is well aware of that goal. That’s why he says that while he would welcome an Olympic invite, it’s not necessarily the first thing on his mind.
“My main goal is to focus on my professional career, move up the rankings and reach the top 100. But the Olympics would definitely be a great reward for all the years of hard work and dedication,” he said.
For now, he will represent Canada in the Davis Cup, where a different national triumph is at stake.
Bruneau said it would be “great” for the men to follow the women’s victory with another of their own.
“That would be ridiculous.”