It really is quite something what’s going on in New York these days, one of the more compelling Canadian sports stories in some time.
Dennis Shapovalov is into the quarter-finals of the U. S. Open – a first for Canadian tennis on the male side oft the ledger — and Vasek Pospisil and Felix Auger-Aliassime can join him with victories in round-if-16 matches later today.
As Damien pointed out this morning, the absence of Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer and the disqualification yesterday of Novak Djokovic opens the door as wide as it has ever been for one of the Canadians to perhaps write history and win one of the most prestigious Grand Slams (I’d put it behind Wimbledon and ahead of the French and Australian Opens in my pecking order) for the first time.
I’m not all that qualified to speak to their raw tennis abilities or the wisdom of whatever match strategy they employ each day out; I’ll leave that to others who are much closer to the game and with a deeper knowledge than I have.
(I will say that I do know a few people very close to the game and some of its top players who have insisted for quite some time that Felix is the most promising and needs just to mature a wee bit to be consistently among the very best in the world and I have no doubt about the veracity of the claim.)
But what I do feel comfortable saying is this: the emergence of so many talented young Canadian players marks once again the evolution of our sports society that’s been going on for years.
Back in the day – and that day isn’t too long ago – we might have one outlier in sports that were seldom associated with Canada.
There might be one tennis player, a golfer, a sprinter, a wrestler – both male and female of course – who would come out of nowhere, it seemed, in sports that didn’t have a deep grounding in Canada, didn’t have any significant level of grassroots sports, were not coached on a level that would make them globally successful more than once in a blue moon.
They would be great stories, mind you. We’d rally around them because they represented Canada, even if we weren’t sure how they became what they’d become.
Now, and it’s really only been in the last 15 or 20 years, I’d say, we have changed as a country and we have changed as a country of sportswomen and sportsmen.
We are diverse and successful on a global scale in greater numbers because we have kids who want to branch out, to be something other that hockey players or skiers or figure skaters.
It’s been lovely to see, to tell you the truth.
Men, women. Indoor sports, outdoor sports. Winter, summer. Team, individual.
It’s great, it really is.
It strikes me that it’s truly more representative of what Canada is. Diverse, evolving, global.
Kind of cool, no?
With Raptors games Monday and Wednesday and likely Friday — I always thought Raptors-Celtics would go seven games and nothing has happened to change my mind —we can keep up the usual Monday-Wednesday-Friday “other stuff” shenanigans in this little space.
That means continual reminders to get in on the fun of the weekend mailbag that was pretty full this week.
All it takes is a click on firstname.lastname@example.org and some typing and you can play along.
Can’t wait to hear from (some of) you.
I am very, very thankful that I didn’t have to wrestle with the difficult decision about whether to send urchins back to school this fall.
I don’t imagine I would have — I don’t have any faith in the provincial government’s “make it up as we go or let’s pass the buck and responsibility” performance in this regard — and that would have been a difficult situation to manage for both the kids and the parents.
I really think we’re going to end up shutting it all down again in a few months and that’s a shame that probably could be avoided with some more foresight and perhaps a bit of a delay in starting.
But kids are back starting tomorrow so be careful, they will be walking to school and on the streets and things are scary enough without taking extra precaution with so many yutes among us for the first time since March.
Kind of quiet yesterday, the players basically had the day off to rest and recuperate as they tend to have on every off day once the playoffs begin, a fact we alluded to in the one item that got filed in the afternoon.
We’re at the point in the proceedings where coming up with fresh angles in difficult in the best of times and virtually impossible when the only access we get is through Zoom chat shared with dozens and dozens of others.
But we do what we can, try to provide some context to stuff everyone gets and, believe me, we’re very thankful for a game every other day because going two days without a game to preview or recap would be soul crushing for the writers and broadcasters.
These times suck, man.
Pospisil at 11 a.m., Auger-Aliamssime at 2 p.m., Raptors at 6:30 p.m.?
That’s a Labour Day that can be completely devoid of llabour if you’d like.