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Anne Photograp News 2024

Larger than life!  |  National Bank opened
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Larger than life! | National Bank opened

He may only be 23 years old, but he has just been immortalized on a wall at IGA Stadium, site of the National Bank Open presented by Rogers (NBO).

Like Leylah Annie Fernandez in the WTA, Félix Auger-Aliassime is the highest-ranked Canadian singles player in the ATP, and he has been honored as such with a larger-than-life mural on one of the two exterior walls of the National Tennis Center.

This very simple and very ingenious idea was created by Hugues Léger, general manager of Tennis Montréal.

Photo: Robert Sanfaçon/La Presse

When he took over from Nicole Nobert, Léger was inspired by an idea she had and ran with it. He approached Tennis Canada, who kindly offered the wall space, and then brought the first two murals to life by personally financing them.

The aim is twofold: to pay tribute to the local players who have achieved the greatest heights of tennis and to be role models for future generations and to provide young players in the city with training walls.

Also read: Auger-Aliassime cannot close Rublev in the Madrid final

“We know that practicing against a wall is the easiest, most accessible and cheapest way to get started,” Léger explains. “That’s how I started, on a wall on the corner of the street where I grew up. And so many great players, including Roger Federer and, closer to home, former NBO tournament director Richard Legendre, have started working.”

Hughes Léger is quick to point out that one of Tennis Montréal’s main missions is to make tennis accessible to as many young Montrealers as possible, and the city has joined in broadening the scope of this fantastic initiative. “The city has provided us with funding for nine more murals in various neighborhoods to roll out the project in 2024 and 2026.”

Photo: Paul Rivard

Who is on the tennis walls? As the aim is to honor Québec’s most illustrious players, past and present, names such as Gabriel Diallo, Alexis Galarneau, Eugenie Bouchard, Aleksandra Wozniak, Marie-Ève ​​​​Pelletier, Valérie Tétreault, Andrée Martin, Sébastien Lareau, Richard Legendre and Réjean Genois all forward. to come up with. When asked, Léger acknowledged that the proposals were interesting, but would not reveal Tennis Montréal’s final choices.

Also read: Double challenge for the NBO 2024

As you can see in the photo above, the mural dedicated to Leylah Fernandez depicts her in the triumphant pose we have come to recognize. Both works were created by Montreal muralist Jenna Schwartz.

Coincidentally, I passed by one of the impressive portraits a week before the unveiling. Even though it was still in the works, it was easy to imagine and appreciate the talent of the artist and the magnitude of the challenge.

Photo: Paul Rivard

Jenna Schwartz posted a short video of two young players training with Félix.

Photo: Paul Rivard

To make this point, let me quote a few lines from this blog from March 2021, when the pandemic helped me reconnect with one of my first training partners:

You see, the wall never falters. It gives back what you serve for it. If you fire a mishit, you get one right back.

Also read: Erin Routliffe rises to the top

If you want to sharpen your reflexes, strengthen your footwork or find a compact swing to quickly respond to opponents who may be going a little too hard on the attack, the wall is the best choice.

There is no need for a partner or even a court. And good luck finding a more affordable alternative!

Do not you believe me? Just ask Nick Bollettieri, the legendary coach of Agassi, Courier, Seles and Sharapova, among others. A few years ago he had only good things to say about being up against a wall.

Photo: Paul Rivard

The ATP’s premier return to Montreal this summer for the National Bank Open from August 3 to 12, 2024 at IGA Stadium. Tickets for 2024 are on sale. Get your tickets today!

Main photo: Tennis Montreal