Thanks to Andreescu, Canadian tennis ready for takeoff

As the country’s leading tennis analyst, Robert Bettauer of Victoria quipped that he set aside Monday as his “Bianca commentary day.”

Indeed, the requests for interviews came from across the country following Bianca Andreescu’s victory over Serena Williams in the women’s final of the U.S. Open to become the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam event.

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Canada becomes a kind of village when the Raptors and Andreescu did what they did this year. Everybody from Justin Trudeau to Steve Nash and Wayne Gretzky reacted over the weekend to Andreescu’s breakthrough for Canadian sport.

“This has crossed over and is seminal in Canadian sport,” said Sportsnet tennis analyst Bettauer.

“You can compare it to Mike Weir winning the Masters and Sidney Crosby’s golden goal.”

It’s a moment that matters in Canadian sport.

“It’s about where she did it [U.S. Open] and who she did it against [Williams],” said Bettauer, also the CEO of the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence on the Camosun Interurban campus, where many national team athletes train.

The growing number of Canadians in the PGA, ATP/WTA and NBA are now actually second-generation ripples caused by trailblalzers Weir, Milos Raonic/Eugenie Bouchard and Victoria’s Nash, respectively.

Andreescu and Denis Shapovalov were influenced by Raonic and Bouchard, the likes of Mackenzie Hughes, Corey Conners, Ben Silverman and Nick Taylor by Weir, and Andrew Wiggins, Jamal Murray, Kelly Olynyk and R.J. Barrett by Nash.

“This is going to bring more attention to tennis in our country,” said Bettauer, a TV tennis analyst and commentator for nearly 30 years at the Olympics, Davis Cup, Federation Cup and Rogers Cup.

Bettauer was three-time Canadian singles tennis champion, who played in the Davis Cup and coached Canadian teams in the Cup, along with coaching Canada at the 1988 Seoul and 1992 Barcelona Olympics. So, he naturally welcomes the anticipated boom to come.

“This builds the confidence of every young tennis player in Canada,” said Bettauer.

“Not only that, it will bring youngsters to the sport when they are considering what youth sports to join. This will do for Canada what Boris Becker and Steffi Graf did for tennis in Germany, Bjorn Borg in Sweden and Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe in the U.S. We are going to see the most exciting generation ever of Canadian tennis players coming up. They will grow up simply expecting to see Canadians in the U.S. and Wimbledon finals. It won’t be a rare thing anymore.”

That’s the impact. As for Andreescu herself, there is no ceiling, he added.

“She has all the technical skills but what is most impressive is her mental and emotional control,” said Bettauer.

“I firmly believe she will be world No. 1.”

And for possibly a long time.

Unlike Weir and Bouchard, there looks to be staying power this time.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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