Toronto is noted for its national sports franchises and international sporting events; tennis is no exception. Every major and minor sport has a home in the city, from hockey to more niche games such as cricket, volleyball, and rugby.
Over the last decade, the city has become a major player in the sport of tennis with the emergence of the Rogers Cup, the rise of talented Canadian professionals, and a surge of new and young fans have brought attention and popularity to tennis in Toronto.
The Canada Masters, now known as the Rogers Cup, alternates yearly between Toronto and Montreal, taking place annually towards the beginning of August. The two cities split the men’s and women’s tournaments, guaranteeing each a professional tennis competition every summer.
This year Toronto hosted the women’s side of the event at the Rexall Centre at York University, just north of the downtown core.
Tennis fans saw a champion in Serena Williams cruise to victory in the finals against Australian Samantha Stosur in straight sets to win the Rogers Cup.
The match set the stage for a rematch a month later, as Williams and Stosur clashed again in the finals of the U.S. Open, with Stosur winning and claiming her first major title.
In years past Torontonians have been afforded the opportunity to watch great tennis stars in Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer on the men’s side, and Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova, Venus and Serena Williams, and Jelena Jankovic for the women.
It is not enough that Toronto is simply hosting a global tennis competition; the city and the nation are also producing talented players in their own right.
A resident of Thornhill, 20-year old Milos Raonic has risen up the ranks in the male Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) rankings, reaching the finals at several events in 2011.
Meanwhile on the women’s side, Rebecca Marino from Toronto is currently the highest ranked Canadian female.
With yearly major tournaments and young rising stars to look up to, tennis fans are born every day in Toronto with public tennis courts and private tennis clubs in every neighbourhood.
From the Kew Gardens Tennis Club in the beaches in the east of the city, to Davisville Tennis Club in midtown and the High Park Club in the west, every area of the city offers access to courts and lessons, fostering the growth and feeding the enthusiasm of young and old tennis fans alike.
While the temperate weather of southern Ontario can make outdoor sports difficult to engage in during the early spring and late fall, there are still plenty of indoor courts in and around the city so as to continue playing tennis year round.
For those living around midtown, the Eglinton Flats Winter Tennis offers year round matches, as does the aforementioned Rexall centre in the north. Meanwhile, Mayfair Clubs offer tennis and wellness centers at various locations in the city, including the lakeshore.
Just outside the city proper, on the border of Mississauga and Oakville rests the popular and vast Ontario Racquet Club, a sport and wellness club that offers, among other things, indoor tennis games and lessons.
If you have trouble finding someone to play with, there are leagues available to people of all ages and talent levels to join and meet fellow tennis lovers.
The Toronto Sport and Social Club has offered over 20 different co-ed and single-sex sports at recreational, intermediate, and advanced levels, including tennis. You can find out more at their website, www.torontossc.com.
Tennis continues to grow in the city in many ways, becoming recognized for both youth engagement in the sport as well as professional competition. While the Rogers Cup is once a year, the city still earns exhibition matches and entertaining events.
This fall the Air Canada Centre will be hosting a much anticipated game between Canadian rising star Raonic and Hall-of-Famer Pete Sampras.
The event will showcase Raonic, the highest-ever ranked Canadian male tennis player, competing against one of his tennis idols.
He will be joined by two fellow rising tennis stars from Quebec, Aleksandra Wozniak and Eugenie Bouchard for the uniquely Canadian and very exciting tennis match.
While hockey may grab all the sports attention and profit in the city, tennis is not to be overlooked. The sport is not only easily accessible, with public courts and private lessons available in every corner of Toronto, but the city has made a concerted effort to attract professionals from around the world to come and play.
The passionate tennis fan base continues to expand, as Toronto remains a diverse and talented sporting city on the international stage.
Totally Toronto has more information on all sporting action in the city, with activities to keep you busy in the stands and on the court throughout the entire year.