By Kristy Koehler, October 4 2018 —
Later this month, Calgary will be the site of largest professional tennis tournament ever hosted in the province —the National Bank Challenger. The tournament takes place Oct. 13–21 at the Osten & Victor Alberta Tennis Centre.
The National Bank Challenger is a part of the the Association of Tennis Professionals’ (ATP) Challenger Tour Series. Players accumulate points during various challenger tours, determining their eligibility for draws at the ATP World Tour. Calgary has previously hosted the International Tennis Federation’s Futures Tournament, an entry-level professional competition that enables players to improve their standings and qualify for higher-level competitions such as the Challenger.
Daniel Nestor, a retired Canadian tennis pro, is the honorary tournament director. Only a few singles players — a list including Roger Federer — have won more than 1,000 matches on the ATP World Tour. Nestor was the first player to record more than 1,000 wins as a doubles player.
Two Canadian players are on the main draw roster of 22 players — Filip Peliwo and Brayden Schnur. Peliwo was the second Canadian after Eugenie Bouchard to win a Grand Slam title, taking home the junior Wimbledon title in 2012.
Finals weekend will begin at noon on Oct. 20 with the singles semi-finals followed by the doubles final. Prior to the main event, the University of Calgary Dinos will take on the University of Alberta Golden Bears in the University Challenge.
The Dinos mens tennis team was founded in 1989 while the womens team formed in 1991. Both teams were extremely successful throughout the 1990s, winning the Western Canadian University Tennis Championships, a tournament the Dinos helped to establish, many times. Unfortunately their dominance on the court did not continue and the team hasn’t found similar success in recent years. Due to their club-level status, the team lacks funding to offer scholarships to competitive players.
To assist Dinos tennis, a non-profit society was formed to assist with fundraising. Money raised will be used for scholarships, uniforms, travel expenses and facilities. Executive director of the society and team manager Patrick Thomas believes that this year the team can make it to a national championship. The Dinos have a star player in Andrew Ochotta. The former ATP player ranked as a pro in both singles and doubles in years past and not only will be playing for the Dinos, he’ll be coaching them as well.
The University Challenge begins at 10 a.m. on Oct. 20. Tickets are $25 and are available online. They include the Battle of Alberta and also give spectators access to all of the matches taking place that day.