What has been happening over this past fortnight at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club has been magical for Canadian Tennis.
What Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic are doing at Wimbledon is truly historic, but what they are also doing is what other Canadians in other sports have done previously…they are inspiring future generations.
Like Rocket Richard in his era, Bobby Orr in his and of course Gretzky not only in Canada but in California, Bouchard and Raonic’s play not only over the past two weeks but over the past calendar year is starting to turn people on to tennis.
Steve Nash has done it in basketball. Larry Walker, Eric Gagne and now Brett Lawrie have done it in baseball. Hayley Wickenheiser in Women’s Hockey…you get the picture. Canadians are a funny bunch. We know that we can succeed, but many times, we are only compelled when we see one of our own succeed at the highest level.
As a golfer, I grew up watching Jack Nicklaus, but one of the more exciting moments for me as a golf fan wasn’t watching the Golden Bear’s amazing run at the 86 Masters…it was watching Canada’s Mike Weir slip on the Green Jacket in 2003.
You can now look at the number of Canadian golfers that Weir’s success has spearheaded, and you realize that Bouchard and Raonic aren’t at the pinnacle of their success here at Wimbledon, they are just beginning.
With these two young Canadian tennis stars just entering the spotlight, their successes will inspire a generation of kids who may just be old enough to get into sports to grab a racket and give tennis a try…the next Bouchard or Raonic will spawn from this new level of excellence, and the inspiration that these two athletes have given their country will be to thank for that.