By: Joseph Peisich

Renewed investment focuses on all levels of the sport, including National Tennis Centre and Year-Round Community Tennis Courts Program

Special to FiredUp Network

Tennis Canada announced on Friday an important new partnership with Rogers Communications, including what will now be known as the National Tennis Centre presented by Rogers. This renewed seven-year partnership agreement with Rogers Communications and Tennis Canada will help to grow tennis at all levels across the country, notably with increased support for the National Tennis Centre (NTC) and a newly-developed Year-Round Community Tennis Courts Program.

Operating in Montreal since 2007, the National Tennis Centre presented by Rogers identifies talented athletes between the ages of 13 and 17 and provides them with the training, coaching and resources necessary to succeed at the top levels of the sport. Rogers will be presenting sponsor for the next three years.

“Rogers has been a leading partner for tennis in Canada for many years, both at the professional and grassroots community level,” said Michael Downey, President and CEO at Tennis Canada. “It has been the principle partner in developing our successful professional tournaments into what they are today, and this renewed partnership will make a real difference in other aspects of our sport – from grassroots to high-performance to professional.  With a greater focus on the next generation of Canadian superstars and wider accessibility to tennis through more year-round community tennis courts across the country, Rogers is once again demonstrating its commitment to growing our sport at all levels. After an extremely difficult year for our organization in 2020, its invaluable support will go a long way in helping us to grow tennis across the country.”

Following the postponement of the tournaments in Montreal and Toronto in 2020, Tennis Canada suffered significant financial losses, which have greatly impacted the ability to invest in the development of the sport, including at the NTC. Rogers’ support for the program allows the centre to continue to operate at an elite level and will help facilitate the recruitment of staff, including coaches and sport science experts, to ensure the centre will continue to shape Canada’s future generation of Olympic and Grand Slam hopefuls. Rogers will also be supporting the athletes’ communications needs in providing them with the best cellphone coverage so they can remain connected with their families.

The class of 2021 is composed of Victoria Mboko, Kayla Cross, Mia Kupres, Annabelle Xu, Jaden Weekes, Christophe Clément and Stefan Simeunovic. The coaching staff includes Sylvain Bruneau, who will continue to spearhead the women’s program and will work closely with André Labelle and Simon Larose, as well as Guillaume Marx, who will oversee the men’s program working closely with Martin Laurendeau. Nicolas Perrotte and Virginie Tremblay are the fitness coaches and André Barette continues his role as Academic Consultant.

“Since its inauguration, the NTC has over 40 successful graduates from the program, including the likes of Bianca Andreescu, Eugenie Bouchard, Félix Auger-Aliassime and Milos Raonic who have all gone on to have stellar careers on the professional circuit and represent their country with distinction,” said Louis Borfiga, Vice-President of High Performance at Tennis Canada. “These athletes will have the opportunity to compete with the best players in the world and continue to make Canadian tennis history. Unfortunately, our junior players were unable to compete in many events last year due to the pandemic. We look forward to seeing what the 2021 season has in store for them.”

In addition to the NTC, Rogers, in partnership with Tennis Canada and local municipalities across the country, will invest in a Year-Round Community Tennis Courts Program, becoming the presenting sponsor of this community-based initiative. Participation in tennis has continued to rise over the past decade, but there is a dire shortage of publicly accessible year-round courts, especially when compared to other leading tennis nations.

Canada has only 750 publicly accessible indoor courts across the country, which represents only 1 court for every 50,000 Canadians. Rogers’ support for the project, in the form of much needed capital seed money, aims to help build up to 160 year-round courts at 28 new facilities over the next seven years and will help more municipalities across Canada in providing affordable and accessible year-round play on covered tennis courts in their communities.

“Rogers is very pleased to renew its partnership with Tennis Canada, this time with a focus on growing and developing grassroots tennis in communities large and small across Canada,” said Simone Lumsden, Chief Marketing Officer at Rogers Communications. “Over the course of this seven-year commitment, we want to help Tennis Canada add 20% year-round community court capacity with 160 new covered courts. Increasing access to tennis and helping make it available year-round will also give more opportunity to our next generation of high-performance athletes.”

Rogers will also continue as the sponsor of Rogers Community Team Tennis, a grassroots program run by Tennis Canada to get kids involved in the sport at a young age, and sponsor of the Rogers Rookie Tour, a program designed to bridge the gap between entry-level tennis and more competitive levels.