For the first three years of the Calgary National Bank Challenger it’s been all about the men. But the 2022 version will welcome a women’s division and in the process break new ground in Canadian tennis.
The Calgary National Bank Challenger will now be a combined men’s and women’s professional tennis event, organizers announced Tuesday.
Slated for Nov. 6-13 at the Osten and Victor Alberta Tennis Centre, the tournament will be an ATP men’s Challenger 80 event as well as a women’s International Tennis Federation (ITF) $25,000 event.
The Calgary Challenger will be the first combined indoor tennis tournament in Canada.
“We are excited to have a combined men’s and women’s pro event in Calgary. Hosting a women’s event in Calgary is an important step toward providing more opportunities for females in the sport of tennis and supporting ATC’s diversity and inclusion strategy,” said tournament director Danny Da Costa.
The addition of the women’s event was possible through a donation from Calgarian and keen tennis player Robert Rivard and his family. Rivard is a retired lawyer and ATC member and director.
“The Women’s ITF event will create great opportunities for young women to be inspired by the females playing in our event,” he said.
“It is our hope that the Challenger will translate into more girls playing and enjoying the sport of tennis.”
Osten and Victor Alberta Tennis Centre hosts Calgary National Bank Challenger this month.
Fourteen-year-old Sienna Miles started playing tennis when she was nine. She’s probably still about four years away from having a chance to play in the Challenger but thinks it’s a great day for women’s tennis.
“I think it’s very exciting because many top women female players have started with events similar to these and I think it will bring good recognition for tennis in Canada. It will help inspire girls to pick up a racquet.”
STARS OF THE FUTURE
The Osten and Victor Alberta Tennis Centre will host the event from November 6th to the 13th. Da Costa said there will be between 80 and 100 players in the women’s division and many with a bright future in the sport.
“Stars of the future,” Da Costa said.
“You know if you look at someone like Leylah Fernandez, two or three years ago she was playing in this type of event.
“I remember seeing her play in 2018, she was playing at an outdoor challenger in Winnipeg. So you’ll see some of the best players. In two or three years they’ll become household names.”
MAKING CANADIAN HISTORY
Da Costa says the Calgary Challenger is proud to be the first to include women in an indoor event and he’s hoping others will follow suit.
“This will be the first combined event in Canadian history so it’s very rare and it will be the first professional event every held in Alberta for females.
“We’re really excited to be at the forefront of this.”
DREAMING OF ONE DAY PLAYING IN THE CHALLENGER
As for Sienna, she’ll keep working on her game. She’s been watching the Challenger since It came to Calgary a few years ago and says it would be great to one day show off her skills in front of the hometown fans.
“I feel like it would be amazing because of all the hard work I put in and it would lead me up to that moment for my friends and family to watch me.”
Concorde Entertainment Group will be the food and beverage partner for the event.
Ticket start at $15 per day and online sales begin April 4.
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