April 18, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

After one year, the Granby WTA 250 is no more

A lot of news out of Tennis Canada today concerning this summer’s national tournament schedule.

But most notable is the fact that the Granby tournament, which was upgraded to a WTA 250 last summer, will go back to being a Challenger-level event on the women’s side as well as the men’s.

“In 2022, we realized that our place in the WTA calendar forced Canadians to choose between our tournament and the US Open qualifying tournament, which wasn’t beneficial to the Championships or to our players in their quest for ranking points,” was the quote from Richard Quirion, Tennis Canada’s director of professional and international tournaments.

That was true, in theory; with the upgrade, the tournament was moved to the week before the US Open – not a great date for anyone. That said, there are so few Canadian players ranked in the 100-250 range to even play the US Open qualifying, it’s really a nothingburger in the big picture.

14-year-old Leylah Fernandez at the Granby Challenger in 2017.

The tournament returns to its previous dates, the week after Wimbledon. And the prize money will be $100,000 for both the men and women.

(We’ll have something up, as soon as there’s a minute, about our experience at the Granby event last summer, and the challenges it had with the upgrade to a full WTA event after years of being a successful, mixed lower-tier event).

It’s also worth pointing out that the tournament license for that week would still be owned by Tennis Canada. During the pandemic, it sub-licensed it for a WTA event in Chicago. That one went right up against a competing, and new, event just a few hours away in Cleveland.

So at some point, you’d expect that another pop-up WTA tournament would be announced.

Top-10 player Daria Kasatkina, who took a wild card into the Granby event last summer to get more matches, does an interview with the local newspaper. With the tournament downgraded in ’23, no chance to see players of that level.

No Van Open in 2023, 2024 up in the air

More bad news came concerning the popular Van Open Challenger in Vancouver, although it wasn’t really NEWS.

The tournament already announced back in March that it wouldn’t be held in 2023, after being upgraded to a WTA 125 and $125K Challenger last year. But with renovations at the host Hollyburn Country Club going on for at least two years, they’re working on an alternate venue to host it in 2024.

(Van Open/Jon Benjamin Photography)

The event tried to relocate to the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex for 2023. But time was just too short.

A solid Canadian fall competitive season

Tennis Canada is also adding a $25K event in Edmonton the first week of November. They’re caling it a Challenger, but with the prize money at $25,000 for the men and the women, it’s really an ITF tournament.

It brings the series of fall events in Canada to seven, between Oct. 9 and Nov. 19. This is a super opportunity for the Canadian players to get consistent match play over a long stretch of time, while not having to hit Sharm El Sheikh or Monastir or Antalya, on the other side of the world.

There also will be a men’s $25,000 ITF in Laval, just north of Montreal, the week before the bigger Granby Challenger.

The women’s ITF in Saskatoon (up to a $60,000 purse this year from $25K a year ago) will be rescheduled a week earlier, also to the week before Granby.

And there will be a women’s $25K tournament at the Nun’s Island club in Montreal from Oct. 9-15.

It brings the series of fall events in Canada to seven, between Oct. 9 and Nov. 19. This is a super opportunity for the Canadian players to get consistent match play over a long stretch of time, while not having to hit Sharm El Sheikh or Monastir or Antalya, on the other side of the world.

And after such a dry spell during the pandemic, when there was literally nowhere near home for the players to compete, it’s a nice breath of fresh air.

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