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How Leylah Fernandez’s run at the U.S. Open inspired young Canadian tennis players

Last Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 10:58 am EDT

MONTREAL (CityNews) ─ Montreal tennis fans and young players are beaming with pride as teen sensation Leylah Annie Fernandez and Felix Auger-Aliassime made their mark on the international stage at the U.S. Open.

At Club Sportif Côte-de-Liesse, where 19-year-old Fernandez of Laval, Que., used to train, players are motivated by her successes.

“It’s a really big achievement for her, and it shows that anyone can do it, especially at a young age,” said one young tennis player. “I really hope she succeeds after this tournament and continues.”

“I’m hoping that I can become a No. 1 star in Canada and the entire world,” said another.

Added a third: “I would like to be successful like them and maybe try to win a few matches at the U.S. Open too. I know that I can be a tennis player if I want to and I know that I can get and achieve my goal and I’m really happy for them.”

A remarkable run to the U.S. Open final ended in disappointment for Fernandez.

She dropped a 6-4, 6-3 decision to British qualifier Emma Raducanu in the women’s singles final at Flushing Meadows. It was the first Grand Slam final appearance for both players.

Montreal’s Auger-Aliassime reached the men’s singles semifinals before falling to Russia’s Daniil Medvedev on Friday afternoon.

Quebec pro Eric Giguere, coach at the Club Sportif Côte-de-Liesse, is glad to see local talent developed from an early age making it to the world stage. Giguere worked with Fernandez in her even younger days.

“If we can get some attract more girls in our program, even though this is a program where we do have quite a bit of girls, but with Felix also performing at such a high level, if we can get boys to come in an join the program and feel that instead of just looking at hockey or soccer or maybe baseball, looking at tennis as something where we can grow, then that would be amazing.

“There’s a challenge in regards to getting girls get into sports and get into competitions. I think with someone like Leylah, with that attitude, that toughness, that determination, is going to be a great example for the girls to join sports and to feel like they can accomplish something here.”