How about Felix Auger-Aliassime?
You may not know these guys. You might not even be sure how to say their last names out loud. (For the record, it's shah-poh-VAH-lahv and oh-sheh ah-LEE-ah-SEEM.)
But trust us. You will know them.
How can we be so confident? Because Oilers star Connor McDavid doesn't show up courtside to watch just anyone play tennis.
Because Canadian tennis players are having a moment right now. Yes, literally right now at The Rogers Cup in Toronto and Montreal, where five of them—Shapovalov, Auger-Aliassime, Francoise Abanda, Milos Raonic, and Peter Polansky—are playing big second round matches today.
But they're also having a moment in general. For 137 years, Canada has been home to one of the world's three oldest tennis tournaments ... yet had no truly great tennis players to star in them. Now, that is finally changing.
Getting the ball rolling
This Canuck revolution started in 2011 when a young Raonic arrived with a booming serve that every opponent learned to fear quickly. By 2016, he was ranked number 3 in the world! Then in 2014, Quebecker Eugenie Bouchard came out of nowhere to stun women's tennis by reaching two Grand Slam semifinals and the final at Wimbledon. She eventually reached number 5 in the world.
Recently, both of these players have struggled. Bouchard has sadly dropped far down the world rankings (she lost yesterday in Montreal). Milos is steadily finding his way back to the Top 10 after dealing with injuries for most of 2017. In the past, Canada's tennis hopes would've fallen away with them. But we have a brighter future now...
Meet the kids
Thanks to players like Shapovalov, Auger-Aliassime, and Abanda, Canada has not one, but a handful of young men and women ready to pick up the torch. And because they're so young—Felix is turning 18 today, in fact—we can expect two things:
One, we'll get to watch them for many years to come. And two, they're likely to only get better! One of them could even be number 1 in the world one day! Are you excited yet?!
Here's what to watch for today from Canada.
In Toronto (men's tournament):
- Peter Polansky will play current Wimbledon champion, Novak Djokovic
- Milos Raonic takes on up-and-coming American, Frances Tiafoe
- Shapovalov has an exciting match against the skilled Italian, Fabio Fognini
- Auger Aliassime wraps it all up versus Daniil Medvedev
Meanwhile in Montreal (women's tournament):
- Francoise Abanda must face-off against Sloane Stephens, who won last year's U.S. Open
Good luck today, Canadians. Win or lose, we know that you're just getting started!