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Immigration a boon to Canadian tennis

Columnist Bruce Penton writes about Bianca Andreescu and how immigration has helped Canadian tennis
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Canadian politicians may be debating the merits or shortcomings of immigration during the upcoming federal election, but Canadian tennis fans are giving a solid thumbs-up to the idea of welcoming people from other countries.

Had there been tough restrictions on immigration through the years, it may have been difficult for the likes of families named Andreescu, Raonic, Shapovalov, Auger-Aliassime and Pospisil from even taking up residence in our country, let alone bringing sporting glory to our home and native land.

The latest headliner is Bianca Andreescu, a 19-year-old who was on the fringes of the sport as little as 10 months ago, before she made it to the final of the ABS Classic in New Zealand in January. Proving it was no fluke, she followed that up with a victory at the Indian Wells tournament in Palm Springs in March, and then won the Rogers Cup title in Toronto in August when health issues forced Serena Williams to forfeit the final. Her latest trip down Glory Lane came in New York earlier this month, when Andreescu stunned the tennis world with a straight-set victory over Williams in the U.S. Open final, capping two weeks of Bianca Fever across Canada. Nice paycheque, too: $3.85 million (U.S.)

It may not have happened had the Andreescu family, carrying the totality of their belongings in two suitcases, not moved from Romania to Canada, where Bianca was born.

The family moved back to Romania when Bianca was young, and it was in Pitesti, Romania, where she started playing tennis at age 7. They moved back to Canada a few years later and Bianca was 11 when she became involved with Tennis Canada.

There is a constant theme to the backgrounds of other top Canadian tennis players:

— Toronto’s Milos Raonic, who missed this year’s U.S. Open due to injury, was born in Yugoslavia (now Montenegro) and is of Serb heritage. His parents, worried about political unrest in the Balkans, moved the family to Brampton, Ont., in 1994, when Milos was three.

— Félix Auger-Aliassime, currently the top-ranked male in our country, was born in Canada, but his father emigrated from Togo, and married a Quebec woman.

— Denis Shapovalov, the third-ranked Canadian who made it to the third round of the U.S. Open, was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, the son of Russian-Israeli citizens Tessa and Viktor Shapovalov. They moved from Russia to Tel Aviv when the Soviet Union was collapsing, later settling in Canada.

— Vasek Pospisil, from Vernon, B.C., is the fourth-ranked Canadian male. His parents Milos and Mila escaped the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia in 1988 and wound up in Vernon, where Vasek was born in 1990.

Immigration, it seems, has been good for the fortunes of Canadian tennis. Say tennis fans from coast to coast: Keep ’em coming.

  • Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Former NHL forward Darren McCarty says marijuana saved his life. Which probably just clinched him the first Lady Bong Trophy.”
  • Comedy writer Bill Scheft, on Twitter: “BREAKING: After consulting doctored map, Trump signs executive order forcing Alabama football team to change nickname from Crimson Tide to Crimson Storm Surge.”
  • Late night funnyman Jimmy Kimmel, discussing ‘fake news’: "I'm hoping we get fake sports, too, because I want to see The Mets win the World Series.”
  • Dwight Perry again: “Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone Park just had its 34th eruption of the year, breaking the longstanding record set by Woody Hayes.”
  • Janice Hough of, on the Twins hitting six home runs — and still losing 10-7 to the Yankees: “If the ball were any more juiced it would be sponsored by Minute Maid.”
  • Bob Molinaro of (Hampton, Va.), on Raiders receiver Antonio Brown finally finding a helmet to his liking: “But, because of what’s in it — his head — he won’t need it this week.”
  • Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg, via Twitter, on the Packers’ season-opening 10-3 win over the Bears: “Aaron Rodgers was listed as the winning pitcher.”
  • Norman Chad of the Washington Post, on Twitter: “I don’t wanna say the Dolphins are tanking, but the team held its training camp at the Miami Seaquarium.”
  • Another one from Dwight Perry: “Students in Oregon can now take ‘mental health days’ as excused absences, just like sick days. Arizonans had something similar last year — better known as the Mondays following Cardinals games.”
  • Comedy writer Jim Barach: Russell Wilson is the top paid NFL player at $79 million this year. The weird part being that Colin Kaepernick still can’t get a job for any pay because he has two knees that both work too well.”
  • Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg: “The NFL's new policy on calling all holding penalties made the Packer's 10-3 win over the Bears as exciting as a high school poetry reading.”
  • Janice Hough again, on Twitter: “Oakland Raiders were undefeated in the Antonio Brown era.”

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