June 25, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

Toronto Tevlin Challenger parties like it’s …1999?

Are you in Toronto with some free time on Monday? Do you want a little throwback tennis?

One of the final-round qualifying matches at the Tevlin Challenger, which is being played at the Rexall Centre, features a couple of names long-time fans might recognize.

Maureen Drake will meet American Alexandra Stevenson for the right to play in the main draw at the $50,000 event.

What is this, 1999?

Drake, who is now 43, has played a couple of matches in the qualifying of tournaments this year – in Granby last summer, and in Saguenay last week, where she got to the third and final round, losing in three sets in her third consecutive three-setter.

Right around this time in 1999, the 28-year-old Drake was at her career best WTA Tour singles ranking of No. 47. She had ber best Grand Slam result that year, reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open. In 1999, Drake also pulled out the leopard lamé for the first time, against Patty Schnyder in Cairo.

Meanwhile, Stevenson, who turns 34 in December, was ranked right about the same in 1999, about No. 50. Just 18, she had done this a few months prior:

StevensonWImby

What a list of names. The only one still active is Raymond, who is now 41. But she’s been a doubles specialist for years now (cnrrently ranked No. 44). She hasn’t played a singles match since 2007.

Stevenson is ranked No. 513; Drake, who doesn’t have a ranking, did have one until 2010, when she was 39.

The BEST part? Exactly 15 years ago this week, Drake and Stevenson, neck-and-neck in the rankings at No. 53 and No. 55, played in the qualifying at the Quebec City WTA event, which was held the first week of November until a few years ago.

That Quebec City match was a dogfight.

Drake-Stevenson

 

 

 

 

 

Are the stars aligned for this one, or what?

Even better? Drake and Stevenson are playing doubles together this week.

If they somehow get to the final, we’re SO heading down there – jet lag be damned.

It was at this Toronto Challenger in 2010 that Drake’s career unofficially ended, after a couple of injuries sustained in the leadup to it sent a message to the 39-year-old that she could no longer ignore.

She played doubles with junior Katarena Paliivets against a couple of familiar names, whose doubles rankings have since risen quite a bit.

dubsdrake

That was her last doubles match – until this week. Her efforts in Granby and Saguenay before this week’s Toronto tournament were her first matches since then.

(The match is first up at 10 a.m. – and it’s not even on Court 1! Shame on them).

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