Milos Raonic is Canada's best tennis player. He is 6 ft. 5 in. tall, has the most powerful serve in the sport, was the Wimbledon finalist last year, and is the highest ranked singles player his country has ever had (he was once ranked as high as number three).
Milos casts a long shadow on Canadian tennis, and not just because he's really tall. Canada doesn't have a very strong history of tennis players. But alongside Genie Bouchard, Vasek Pospisil, and current French Open mixed doubles champion Gabriela Dabrowski, that has really started to change. Canada's national tennis team is better than ever. And we may not have seen anything yet.
Enter Felix Auger-Aliassime (say oh-JSHAY ah-lee-ah-SEEM). This 16 year-old from Montreal may not be a household name like Milos and Genie. But tennis experts think he will be soon!
A young lion wins in Lyon
This past Sunday, Felix won a tournament in Lyon, France, and wrote himself into a number of record books.
He became the 7th youngest player in history to win a Challenger title. The Challenger tour is a series of professional tournaments that are one step down from the ATP Tour, or premier, tournaments. The 6th and 8th youngest players? Current legends Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Not bad company! (For the record, when he was 14, Felix became the youngest player ever to qualify for a Challenger tournament, too.)
Felix is now also the youngest player in 12 years to crack the Top 250 player rankings. He is ranked 231. Sure, that's a long way from Milos' current rank of 6. But Milos is also over 10 years older than Felix! For a player who is still young enough to be in high school, this is all a remarkable achievement.
Growing up fast
Felix was once ranked No.2 in the world's junior players (juniors are players aged 18 and younger). He won the Boys (junior) title at the 2016 U.S. Open, which is the biggest tournament in the United States. In theory, Felix could still play as a junior for another two years! But it is becoming clearer that this star-in-the-making is ready to compete against adults. It doesn't hurt that he's already 6 ft. 3 in.!
He was born in Montreal to a father from the tiny African nation of Togo and a Quebecois mother. Even though he's been playing since he was 4 and comes from an athletic family (his older sister, Marika, plays professional tennis), his success has as much to do with his belief in himself as with his natural talent.
"I think what I did during the tournament was I fought well mentally," he told the CBC. "I stayed positive every moment of every match and at the end of the week it paid off because I played my best tennis."
Now all he has to do is update his profile pic. He's playing with the big boys now!
Good time to change my ATP profil pic ????? pic.twitter.com/4GB4hzH5w0
— Félix AugerAliassime (@felixtennis) June 19, 2017
Allez, Felix Auger-Aliassime! Canada is proud of you!