Canadian tennis thriving: Nestor
Canadians remain in contention at Calgary Challenger Tour tennis event
Canadian tennis legend Daniel Nestor is in the city to help promote his sport and the Calgary National Bank Challenger, the current stop on the 2018 ATP Challenger Tour.
He will be honoured Friday during Daniel Nestor Day at the tournament at Calgary’s Osten & Victor Alberta Tennis Centre.
As honorary tournament director, Nestor’s involvement in this ATP Challenger Tour event has included hosting doubles and kid’s clinics and participating in the National Bank Pro-Am Tennis event. Nestor will participate in Sportsnet 960 KidSport Day on Thursday at the tennis centre.
Q What brings you here to Calgary? You’re the honorary tournament director here, right?
A I’ve known Danny Da Costa for a long time. He runs the Osten & Victor Alberta Tennis Centre here, and he invited me down. I’ve recently retired, so I’d like to stay involved in keeping the momentum we have with tennis in this country. So it was an easy choice.
Q Where is tennis in this country right now?
A I think everyone knows it’s the best it’s ever been, and it’s not a time to be complacent. We have a lot of good things in place. We need to keep the ball rolling, for sure.
Q It certainly has been exciting the last five or six years for tennis in Canada whereas before it was kind of just you, right?
A There was always different players. But now it’s a big group of players that are playing at the highest levels, and you feel like you’re getting results every week. That’s exciting for the fans, for sure.
Q What does this ATP Challenger Tour do for tennis and for Canadian tennis?
A For sure for the local tennis scene, this is inspiring because you have some of the best players in the world here. I know they’re not top 50 or 100 players like you see at the Rogers Cup, but they are guys who have either been there or are on their way there. So you’re seeing very good talent, and you’re getting tennis exposure that you don’t normally get in this area. You hope from it that you’re keeping local kids interested and fans at all levels interested.
Q The ATP Challenger Tour, it basically feeds the ATP Tour, right?
A Yeah, this is the place where the players are using the points to get their ATP rankings higher and win some matches to gain confidence. We all came through the system. Next year, I think they’re actually eliminating the ITF Futures-level events and there’s just going to be a qualifying kind of tour for these types of tournaments. So these tournaments are just going to get stronger and stronger, and I think that’s exciting for an event like this, for sure.
Q What did you learn from these kinds of events?
A You know ... it’s not that much different than the pro tour. You have guys out here in the same boat as you, and you’re trying to win matches, and the level’s high. Basically you’re just trying to become a better player and doing the little things to get to the highest levels. It’s definitely a place where you’re trying to build confidence and get matches under your belt. But at the same time, you have 30, 40 guys here trying to do the same thing. It’s high-level competition. It doesn’t matter at what level you’re winning matches, because as long as you’re winning, it’s a huge confidence boost. You definitely see guys that have won on this level go straight to the ATP Tour and win on that level, too, because playing a lot of matches, that’s definitely the best way to practise.
Q Who among Canadians should we be watching at events like this?
A Two off the top of my head are Brayden Schnur and Filip Peliwo. They’ve been knocking on the door. Filip had so much success in juniors, and Brayden in college. They’re both in the top 200 and trying to get to the next level where we have Felix (Auger-Aliassime) and Denis (Shapovalov) and Milos (Raonic) and Vasek
(Pospisil) ... These guys have big games, and hopefully, they play their best tennis here.
Q How is retirement for you? Are you missing pro tennis?
A No. I played a long time, and I realized that my time was up on tour. Retiring when you know it’s definitely your time is easier than having second thoughts about whether you’re doing the right thing. I’m enjoying it. I’m enjoying being with my family more, for sure. I enjoy events like this. So I’d like to definitely stay involved in tennis around the country and doing stuff like this moving forward.
Stephen Diez came to Calgary hoping for a week to help change his tumbling tennis fortunes.
He’s hitting .500 in the $75,000 Calgary National Bank Challenger at the Osten & Victor Alberta Tennis Centre.
While his singles time is over at the ATP Challenger Tour event, Diez is showing well in doubles with partner Alexis Galarneau.
The Canadian team has already toppled Turkey’s Cem Ilkel and Spain’s Roberto Ortega-Olmedo in the Round of 16.
Diez and Galarneau next play the Philippines’ Ruben Gonzales and American Nathaniel Lemmons in quarter-final doubles action Thursday afternoon on Court 4 of the Osten & Victor Alberta Tennis Centre. “This year hasn’t been a very good year for me — probably one of my worst years in seven or eight,” said Diez, a Toronto native. “The biggest thing about tennis is you have a new chance every week because there’s tournaments every week and things can change really fast. You have a switch (go off ) in your head and you don’t know why or how, but you have to grab it and go with it the rest of your year. “That would be amazing to do that here.”
Brayden Schnur is also up for Canada on Thursday. The Ontarian is No. 237 in the ATP rankings and plays Spain’s Adrian Menendez-Maceiras in evening action on the National Bank Court.
That will be followed by the doubles team of Canadian Adil Shamasdin and American Hunter Reese against Venezuela’s Luis David Martinez and Ecuador’s Roberto Quiroz.
In singles play on Day 3 Wednesday, Galarneau, slotted 707th in the ATP rankings, lost to the tournament’s top seed, Australia’s Jordan Thompson. The Aussie won the Round of 16 match 6-2, 6-0 over the 19-year-old Canadian.
In Wednesday ’s late action, Vancouver’s Filip Peliwo, 24, squared off against American Collin Altamirano.
Day 4 of the Calgary National Bank Challenger’s main event Thursday begins at 11 a.m.
Recently retired Canadian Daniel Nestor is in Calgary conducting tennis clinics during the National Bank Challenger Tournament.
Australian John-Patrick Smith delivers a serve against France’s Enzo Couacaud during action at the National Bank Challenger Tournament Wednesday at Calgary’s Osten & Victor Alberta Tennis Centre.