Cana­dian ten­nis thriv­ing: Nestor

Cana­di­ans re­main in con­tention at Cal­gary Chal­lenger Tour ten­nis event

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - TODD SAEL­HOF tsael­hof @post­media.com

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.

GAVIN YOUNG

Re­cently re­tired Cana­dian Daniel Nestor is in Cal­gary con­duct­ing ten­nis clin­ics dur­ing the Na­tional Bank Chal­lenger Tour­na­ment.

GAVIN YOUNG

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.

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