The National Bank Canadian junior open (NBCJO) is one the best tournaments of international caliber opposing the best players from 14 to 18 years-old coming from about thirty different countries. The tournament is the only international event in Canada categorized as a level 1 as well as being currently named the 4th best international tournament by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). Many renowned players have played the NBCJO, including Andy Murray (2nd), Milos Raonic (9th), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (7th), Eugénie Bouchard (47th), Victoria Azanrenka (5th) and Aleksandra Wozniak.
Over thirty years of history
The NBCJO will hold this year its 31st edition in Repentigny. Such a long history granted the tournament a prestige and a reputation that well transcends the Québec and Canadian borders. The NBCJO has known success that has had repercussions all over the globe and now, after three decades of achievements, it is important to look back on its successful history.
1986 marked the beginning to the tournament in Repentigny. However, the city did not inherit a brand new tournament. The event itself was already almost a centenary tournament at that time. Indeed, in 1896, the Canadian Lawn Tennis Association, had authorized the organization of a tournament for boys under 18 years of age. However, the winners were not listed until 1918. The first known winner was the Canadian Jack Calder. As for the girls, they had to wait until 1946 before an event would be held for them. Amongst the most famous winner of the tournament of the “pre-Repentigny” era, we find Rod Laver (1956) and Pat Cash (1981), as well as the French-Cameroonian player Yannick Noah (1977).
When the Four-seasons indoor club closed in Laval, where the tournament was held since 1983, it was Repentigny’s chance to become the host city. 56 athletes, 28 girls and as many boys, coming from around 20 countries took part in the first edition of the tournament at Larochelle Park. 3000 spectators got the chance to watch, amongst others, the famous Jim Courier and Michael Chang. They were the first tennis stars to come display their talents in Repentigny, but definitely not the last. Tens, if not hundreds of futures pros would follow their footsteps.
The second edition of the even confirmed its status as a milestone tournament on the international tour. The tournament became graded A by the ITF, which meant it was included in the top 10 junior tennis tournaments on the planet. It was said ‘’ After London and Paris, and before New York, Repentigny presents…’’ a saying that sticks to the even today.
The tournament officially became a corporation in 1986 in the name “Les Internationaux de tennis Junior du Canada Inc.”. In less than two years, the tournament had really become part of the landscape of the tennis tour and managed to win over Repentigny’s population. The third edition of the tournament also marked the beginning of the restructuration and improvement of the installations at Larochelle Park.
In 1989, Tennis Canada recognized the dynamic nature and the quality of the tournament’s organization in Repentigny as they gave organization of the tournament to the city for the 5 years to come. This was confirmed over and over through the years, up until 2005, the year marking the 20th edition of the tournament.
Many events contributed to the reputation and the growing crowds in Repentigny, including the visit of the Stanley Cup in 1993, mains draws off 128 players from 1997 to 2001, a record 52 countries represented in 2001, which all led to a record crowd of 25 000 people in 2002. This all goes to show how appreciated by the players and tennis fans the tournament is and speaks of the quality of its organization.
The tournament also received multiples prizes and awards that helped increasing its reputation. These prizes included: 5 times winner of the Tournament of the year by Tennis Quebec, Touristic event of the year by the Tourisme Québécois awards, regularly winner of the Touristic event of the region of Lanaudière, as well as many other prizes and prestigious awards for the volunteers.
Finally, since 2008, the opening match, the featured matches, the doubles final and singles semi-finals and finals are all web broadcasted live and free on the internet, with a media coverage equaling all the big networks of the country. It can be said that through the years, the tournament has not stopped animating the tennis scene in Québec and in Canada. In 2010, the tournament even won the prize of National or International tournament by Tennis Québec.
Not many events in Canada can claim to have had such a significant impact on their sport. This success all comes back to the volunteers, host families, ball boys and girls, members of different organizing comities and the thousands of fans. All the people, through their love for tennis, have created this impressive event. To many more years of great tennis in Repentigny!