Quebec tennis stars Fernandez and Auger-Aliassime inspire local players
Laval's Leyla Fernandez continued her remarkable run at the U.S. Open Tuesday, earning a spot in the semifinals.
Montreal's Felix Auger-Aliassime is also through to the semifinals in what's being called the best run for Canada ever in a major tennis tournament.
And local Tennis lovers are having a ball taking it all in.
At Club CDL in Ville Saint-Laurent, players plan their practices around the U.S. Open schedule.
Everyone is talking about Canada's newest sports heroes.
16-year-old competitive player Zakaria Achour says, "I find them very good and we are very proud of them."
Zakaria and his older brother Alexandre say that watching Leylah Fernandez and Felix Auger-Aliassime's success makes them feel the dream is attainable for up and coming Quebec players.
“I've known Felix since he was 12, he was playing with my older brother. They are in the same category so it's really inspiring to see someone that I knew when he was young and where he is now," says Alexandre.
The spotlight on Canadian tennis talent emphasizes that players can blossom here.
"I don't need to move to Spain, I don't need to move to the U.S. I can do this here," says Eric Giguere, director of high-performance tennis programs at Club CDL.
Quebec pros like him are glad to see local talent developed from an early age making it to the world stage.
Giguere worked with Leylah in her younger years.
“Having had the chance when I was with her at the nationals for Tennis Quebec, [as] one of the team coaches, her work ethic is impeccable. She's got a great IQ, tennis IQ," he says.
Perhaps we are just learning of their skills, but the tennis world has known these names for years. Sylvie Giroux of Tennis Quebec has worked with both players.
“Leylah and Felix were part of the Quebec team — we have a Quebec team under 10, under 12, so they both were part of it. They both played nationals,” says Giroux. “Felix did well at nationals and Leylah won at the age of 13 at the under 16 national competition.”
The coaches at Club CDL say you never know who the next superstar is going to be. Alain Mansuela encourages them all, no matter their skill level.
“They're really enthusiastic getting on the court and want to do the same thing," says Mansuela.
Fernandez plays Thursday and Auger-Allisiame on Friday. Lots of people will be watching — including their old friends.