FERGUSON’S FALLS, ONT. — Rising Canadian tennis stars Leylah Fernandez and Felix Auger-Aliassime are gaining fans from the unlikeliest of places as the storm to the semi-finals of the US Open.
Following her quarterfinal win over fifth ranked Elina Svitolina, Fernandez was asked what is fuelling her impressive run through the sport’s heavyweights.
“What is it that they’re feeding you up north in Canada that is producing such incredible inspiring tennis this week?”
“I would say it’s the maple syrup,” laughed Fernandez, “the Canadian maple syrup is very good.”
It’s a simple gesture and remark by the adrenaline filled 19-year-old, but one that resonates close to home for many across the country.
“That actually brought tears to my eyes because that was so beautiful, it’s awesome,” said Moira Wilkie, after watching the comment by Fernandez for the first time.
Wilkie is the operations manager at Temple’s Sugarbush in Ferguson’s Falls, Ont. She says, after six years of working there, maple syrup has seeped into her bones.
“It’s the essence of Canadiana for sure,” said Wilkie. “I mean these athletes travel all over the world, they could say anything at that point. And to think that they relate back to maple syrup, that’s really close to home.”
Auger-Aliassime earned his birth in the men’s semi-final on Friday following a forfeiture by Carlos Alcaraz Garfia. When asked post match about Fernandez’s maple syrup comment the 21-year-old said the pair would have to fuel up before their next matches.
“We’ll be sure in the next two days, when we have two days off, to get some pancakes with maple syrup,” Auger-Aliassime told TSN. “If we do, we’ll get a picture for you.”
Now Wilkie, not a fan of professional tennis before, is cheering on some new stars.
“I just want to say congratulations to all of our Canadian tennis players. We wish you all the best from all the maple syrup producers in Canada, Quebec, and Ontario. And we’re going to look to send you some just for your shout out, thanks so much.”
Fernandez faces number two ranked Aryna Sabalenka in one of the women’s semi-final matchups on Thursday, with Auger-Aliassime taking to the court Friday to face number two ranked Daniil Medvedev.
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