Fast Cars And World-Class Tennis: Vancouver Is Back
After a one-year hiatus, the ATP Challenger Tour is back in western Canada for the 12th edition of the Odlum Brown VanOpen. Under the helm of new tournament director and 2006 champion Rik de Voest, they picked up right where they left off.
The bustling Canadian metropolis of Vancouver has welcomed world-class tennis for more than a decade and the players have taken notice. Seven of the eight seeds featured in this week's draw are in the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, with World No. 79 Jordan Thompson and a resurgent Cedrik-Marcel Stebe slated to square off for the title on Sunday.
"It's been great," said Thompson, who is into his second ATP Challenger Tour final in less than a month, following a runner-up finish in Binghamton. "It's one of the best Challengers in my book. Obviously you can't beat the view from the top of the club. It's just amazing and the people have been really nice and helpful here."
Located at the multi-million dollar sports centre at Hollyburn Country Club in the beautiful suburb of West Vancouver, the venue offers some of the more picturesque views on the ATP Challenger Tour. Surrounded by the Howe Sound and Coast Mountains, players visiting Hollyburn have not only been treated to a world-class and opulent facility, but a relaxing retreat during the hectic summer hard-court season.
And perhaps the tournament's greatest feature is the housing it offers its players. Traveling throughout the season can take its toll both physically and emotionally. A slice of home life on the road is always welcomed and with Hollyburn members opening their doors - and fast cars - players are treated to some of the finest hospitality the tour has to offer. Quarter-finalist Liam Broady is grateful for his host family, the Christiansens.
"They've housed a couple of English guys in the past and it definitely gets your adrenaline running in the morning when you're coming in a fast car. It's all fun," Broady told ATPWorldTour.com. "The housing I have received at other events has always been great but the host family I have had here are fantastic. They have a beautiful home and are an amazing help throughout the tournament in any way they can.
"This is personally my favourite tournament of the year for many reasons. The host families are amazing and so is the club and the city of Vancouver. I know a lot of players feel the same way. Everybody was sad to see it off the calendar for 2016. Thankfully this year it was back bigger and better than ever. Hopefully it will be back again next year and in the years to come."
Broady upset top seed and four-time champion Dudi Sela in the second round, en route to his third Challenger quarter-final of the season and a projected return to the Top 250 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. The tournament also featured the final professional singles match of Canadian stalwart Philip Bester's career, as well as a slew of #NextGenATP stars - six in total - looking to continue their ascents.
"It's been really great," said American teen Taylor Fritz, who also reached the quarter-finals. "This is definitely one of the nicest Challengers I've been to. With the attendance so high, the second I stepped on the Centre Court I was thinking that it feels like an ATP World Tour centre court. It's really nice and the club's great too. I've really enjoyed it."
"I think it's an amazing tournament for a Challenger," added Austria's Sebastian Ofner. "It's not a big difference from an ATP tournament and the location is very nice. I also like the housing so you can live with someone. It's just a very good tournament."
On Sunday, second seed Thompson will vie for his fifth Challenger title and first of the year against former World No. 71 Stebe, who continues to plot his return to the Top 100 after missing nearly three years following hip surgery. The inspiring 26 year old was ranked outside the Top 500 a year ago and is into his third final of 2017, seeking a second title (Poprad Tatry).