Tennis

Record attendance at the 2022 NBO

The purpose of a title is normally two-fold: it reflects the essence of the text and, when possible, provides a summary. Equally, it should arouse the reader’s interest and curiosity.

I believe the title above fulfills those objectives rather well.

The 2022 National Bank Open was a revival and return to normalcy after the cancellation of the 2020 edition and the pandemic tournament that followed.

NEW RECORD

The attendance record, which is a perfect illustration of the successful new beginning, totals 237,158 ticket holders over 10 days. That’s 12,000 more than the previous record from 2019. Mission accomplished would have made another fine title for this blog.

Needless to say, NBO tournament director Eugène Lapierre was in good spirits at the wrap-up press conference.

Before the presser, he’d met with ATP supervisor Cedric Mourier, who was “very complimentary.”

WINDFALL

The success is also financial.

The 2020 tournament was cancelled, and Tennis Canada only broke even in 2021, so the success is a boom for the federation’s mission. “We are a non-profit organization, contrary to Miami or Indian Wells or Monte Carlo. Our concern is to give as much money as we can to the development of the game,” Lapierre explained.

PARITY

Every tournament wants its top eight seeds to play in the quarterfinals, but that’s a rare occurrence. Montréal lost its nos. 1, 2, 3 and 5 in their opening matches, and the 7th and 10th seeds in the next round. But Eugène Lapierre is lucid and doesn’t talk about disappointment so much as parity and possibilities. Hurkacz, Carreno Busta, Ruud, Evans, Draper and Paul were revelations to many, and they brought the action.

Photo: Twitter

When asked about the seeds who scattered, Lapierre said: “My opinion is that the players who win their match deserve to advance, and they are creating the show.” Indeed, there were excellent battles in both stadiums.

THE TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR’S FAVOURITE MOMENTS

Photo: Tennis World

Without hesitation, Eugène Lapierre mentions Félix Auger-Aliassime as one of his favourites of the week. He believes the Quebecer rose to the challenge despite the pressure to please everyone at home. He played two great matches and met the crowd’s expectations. And ours, of course. “He played incredibly well. I was happy to see that. People were saying he should be in the final, so he was under pressure,” said Lapierre.

And let’s not forget singles and doubles finalist Hubert Hurkacz of Poland.

“I didn’t know him much before. He seems to be happy about everything and he plays well, but he’s very nice. When he came, he said, ‘What can I do for the tournament? Should I meet people? Should I play with the kids?’ So, it was refreshing to see an athlete like him making himself available. And he’s good on the court, too.”

MY FÉLIX MOMENT

Even though he became the first Quebecer to reach the men’s quarterfinals of his tournament, the Canadian Open, what touched me the most happened on Centre Court when the stands were… empty.

To celebrate his 22nd birthday on August 8, he received one of the best gifts of his young life—a wonderful surprise planned and organized by Valérie Tétreault, director of communications, and her team.

Photo: Twitter

Félix, a proficient pianist himself, got to play with international composer and pianist Alexandra Stréliski. At a piano set up near sections 106 and 107 on Centre Court, they played one of her songs together. But it was the second part of the gift that really gave him—and the viewers—all the feels. 

These images are worth a thousand words and a few tears.

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