Tennis anyone? Okay, are you like most Canadians that just caught “tennis fever”?

Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic have emerged as household names, two athletes that have taken their sport to unparalleled heights in Canada. Both are world ranked in the top 10; both are likeable, both play a fierce game and both are gathering a popularity usually reserved for hockey players, rock stars or other iconic figures.

To date, both these athletes are not controversial as Bouchard and Raonic just go about their business while letting their performances do the talking on the court. When they speak to the media, it’s with a calm poise well beyond their years. “Genie” is just 20 and Milos only 24, yet they have an entire country at their fingertips and an international following that is growing leaps and bounds.

Tennis has never looked so promising in Canada, as interest fades south of the border. Raonic, at #6, is ranked higher than any American man while Bouchard, at #7, has a higher ranking than any American woman, except Serena Williams; albeit Serena is on the downside of her career while Genie is blossoming.

Bouchard and Raonic’s showing at Wimbledon elevated the career of both Canadians. Bouchard was a finalist and Raonic a semi-finalist and it was clear that pressure and/or nerves played a major role in their loss on centre court. These nerves indicate a lack of experience. There is no substitute for experience when it comes to the world’s most prestigious tournament. Bouchard lost to Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-0. Kvitova had won before at the All England Club (2011) and that familiarity helped push her to the top. Bouchard was the first Canadian in the Open era to reach a Grand Slam singles final. She also made the semi-finals of the Australian and French Open this year.

“It was a big moment walking out on to centre court for a final. I have that experience now, I know what it feels like,” Bouchard told reporters. She also has the right attitude moving forward. “I’m going to go back, work on my game, and try to get better. You always need to get better,” stated the product of Westmount, Quebec.

The legendary Chris Evert lost her first three major finals before going on to win 18 Grand Slams. Naturally, it’s far too early to suggest that Genie will be another Chrissy, however, with her consistent play, it is evident that Bouchard is no flash in a pan.

Raonic made it to the Wimbledon semifinals before falling 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to Roger Federer, a 17-time major champion. Afterwards Raonic admitted, “I put too much pressure on myself.” However, the Thornhill, Ontario native was able to reflect on his achievement. “If you had asked before the start would I sign to make the semis, I would have signed. But when you get to this point the greed of human nature takes over. You want so much more and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Almost overshadowed was the stellar play of Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil (24), who was born in Vernon, as he teamed with American Jack Sock to capture the Wimbledon men’s doubles title.

The success of Bouchard, Raonic and Pospisil (who have been aided by high level coaching from Tennis Canada), has helped re-energize the sport. They are role models that will have a positive effect on our youth. How many new players take up tennis is speculative but kids are influenced by high achievers that they can relate to.

Membership at the PG Tennis Club is up 5 to 10 per cent this year and will likely grow further. “I think with the tennis success (at Wimbledon), it’s a great possibility our membership and lessons will go up (further) here in Prince George”, stated PG Tennis Club Manager and Coach Nolan Schwab.

It is a safe bet most of the other Tennis Clubs in Canada will also feel the growth. And when the time comes that a Canadian singles player wins a grand slam tournament, and it will happen, the euphoria of that moment will help escalate the sport to even greater heights.

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The WHL and BCHL regular season schedules for the 2014-15 season are out. There are just six dates that the Prince George Cougars and Spruce Kings play a home game on the same night: October 10th, November 14th and 15th, January 17th and February 6th and 7th.

The Cougars host more weekday home games than ever before. The Cats play at CN Centre on 10 Wednesdays, 10 Saturdays, 9 Fridays, 6 Tuesdays and 1 Sunday (Nov 2nd) for a total of 36. The Spruce Kings play most of their 28 home games on the weekend. The Kings play at the Coliseum on 10 Fridays, 10 Saturdays, 4 Thursdays, 2 Sundays, 1 Tuesday and 1 Wednesday.

During the Canada Winter Games (Feb 13th-March 1st), the Cougars have only one home game on Feb 21st (CWG travel day) while the Spruce Kings are home just twice on Feb 27th and 28th, their last games of the regular season. The Cougars and Spruce Kings both start their season September 20th, which is just over 10 weeks away.

From the Quote Rack:

A fan who fell asleep during a Yankees-Red Sox game is suing ESPN for $10 million. After Tuesday’s performance against Germany, the Brazilian World Cup team ought to sue them for $200 million.

There are now self-serving beer machines at Target Field in Minneapolis. Or, as the saying goes, ‘I went to an All-Star Game and Ten Cent Beer Night’ broke out.

Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

Apparently the World Cup television ratings have been higher than those of the NBA finals. Better flopping?

The Oakland A’s acquired Jeff Samardzija from the Cubs. Which means Samardzija is going to the
only home stadium in MLB with more antiquated plumbing than Wrigley Field.

Contributor Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

Two members of one of the New York Mets’ low minor league teams were recently arrested for drag racing. I guess they thought they were on the fast track to the majors.

Comedy Writer Marc Ragovin of New York

The Cubs whipped the Red Sox 16-9. Boston doesn’t need hitting, they need Tom Brady.

Congrats to Joey Chestnut for not just winning the annual Hot Dog eating contest at Coney Island, but also for proposing to his girl friend before the contest. She said “Yes”! (Guess what they’ll be serving for a main course at the wedding)

Comedy writer TC Chong of Vancouver (http://alwaysfunny.com/)

Quarterback Drew Willy has led Winnipeg to a surprising 2-0 start. Note to Bomber fans: it’s a bit premature to rename the city Willypeg.

Olympic curling champion Brad Jacobs is reportedly thrilled police found his stolen ring from the 2014 Sochi Games. I’m thinking it was recovered in a sweep.

Comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

A study found that World Cup teams that banned sex didn’t advance beyond the elimination round. So no scoring off the field means no scoring on the field.

Comedy writer Gary Bachman

And in case you missed it:

Luis Suarez jerseys are for sale in Barcelona. Trying to find fans that want to purchase them is like pulling teeth.

Hartley Miller is the sports director for radio station TheGoat94.3 His column appears weekly on hqprincegeorge.com. Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to [email protected]
Follow him on twitter: @Hartley_Miller