Henin – and York – are tennis winners

The world’s number one woman tennis player emerged as number one at York as well on Sunday. Justine Henin of Belgium won the week-long Rogers Cup women’s championship held at the Rexall Centre on the Keele campus, defeating world number three Jelena Jankovic of Serbia in two tightly contested sets.

Right: Singles champion Justine Henin. All photos courtesy of Tennis Canada.

You could say that York emerged a winner, too. The week of tennis on campus is one of the highlights of the University’s social year. The Rexall Centre, run by Tennis Canada, contains an executive suite for York, and Faculties and major units of the University made full use of it to entertain key supporters and partners.

This year’s events also offered an ideal opportunity to introduce new President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri to a wide variety of the University’s friends, along with members of the campus community. A measure of that success came after the Faculty of Fine Arts event, when Andy Barrie, host of CBC Radio’s "Metro Morning", spoke on the air about his pleasure in meeting Shoukri. Barrie said Shoukri talked about creating a medical school at York.

Left: Singles finalist Jelena Jankovic

As for the tennis, York’s guests – as well as members of the York community who took advantage of substantial ticket discounts offered through YFile – saw a dramatic week of play. Here is a summary provided by Tennis Canada:

For most of the week, the women fought swirling winds and below normal temperatures. But Mother Nature cooperated on Championship Sunday, delivering perfect conditions for remarkable athletes to display their exceptional skills.

 The best players in this year’s draws lived up to their billing with the top two seeds advancing to the final in both singles and doubles. After outstanding play from both women in the championship match, it was world No. 1 Justine Henin of Belgium who was left standing after a thrilling 7-6(3), 7-5 victory over second-seeded Serbian Jelena Jankovic.

In the doubles final, fortunes were reversed for the top-ranked team as No. 2 seeds Katarina Srebotnik (Slovenia) and Ai Sugiyama (Japan) earned their first title together with a 6-4, 2-6, 10-5 upset win over Cara Black (Zimbabwe) and Liezel Huber (United States).

Right: Doubles champions Katarina Srebotnik (left) and Ai Sugiyama

The 2007 event will be remembered for its triumphs, but also for its heartbreaks. Defending champion Ana Ivanovic of Serbia bowed out in the second round to a Chinese upstart with nothing to lose. Qualifier Zi Yan, ranked No. 169 in the world, enjoyed the week of her life, becoming the lowest ranked player ever to reach the Rogers Cup semifinals since the rankings system was introduced in 1975.

Also making waves this week was unheralded Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano, who pulled off two major upsets, including victories over world No. 6 Anna Chakvetadze of Russia and top 20 regular Shahar Peer of Israel en route to her second Tour quarter-final in as many weeks.

Ultimately, the tournament finals capped off a week of unforgettable action that thrilled the fans in attendance, featuring plenty of nail-biting moments and awe-inspiring shot-making. There was no more suitable way to kick off this summer’s biggest show than to welcome four of the greatest players that tennis has ever seen. Monday night’s Tennis Legends presented by Acura, featuring John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Anna Kournikova, and Carling Bassett-Seguso, was an entertaining and nostalgic affair that brought back many memories of earlier generations of tennis greats.

There was just as much fun to be had off the courts as well, highlighted by fashion shows that embodied the tournament theme of "Victorious and Vogue", as well as several outdoor concerts and various tennis clinics for those wishing to perfect their games.

The excitement of the tournament will be rekindled less than one year from now when the men return to Rexall Centre July 19-27, 2008 for the 2008 Rogers Cup presented by American Express.

  • York’s Joelle Fisher was among eight top Canadian university and college players who  competed for a first-ever championship during the Rogers Cup tournament. See Sports Update.