To perceive how Vancouver — which, as Canada’s third-largest metropolis, has lengthy stood within the tennis shadow of Toronto and Montreal — received the proper to host the 2023 Laver Cup, begin with the massive image. From 2,500 ft.
In April 2019, the morning after Laver Cup officers flew in from New York, the very first thing their Vancouver hosts did was pile them right into a seaplane.
Climbing out of Vancouver Harbour, the pilot circled above skyscrapers and sports activities arenas earlier than heading north over cedar bushes and glacial lakes towards Black Tusk, the area’s volcanic peak. Whistler Mountain beckoned within the distance. After an hour of sightseeing, the aircraft splashed again down throughout from the 2010 Olympic Cauldron.
It was a robust reminder of town’s internet hosting legacy.
Steve Zacks, the chief govt of the Laver Cup, remembers placing a variety of belief within the pilot. “Once you’re up there, it’s just a beautiful perspective of the city and all the surroundings,” he mentioned in an interview.
But it was Vancouver’s expertise — and its burgeoning grass-roots tennis scene — that satisfied him and his staff to take the Laver Cup to a metropolis that hadn’t had a big-time tennis occasion in a half-century.
“The appeal of Vancouver is that it’s a modern city, a business center, and plus, they had the infrastructure and experience to host a major sporting event,” he mentioned.
Since the 2010 Winter Games, Vancouver has been the location of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup finals, a number of Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup qualifying matches for Canada’s nationwide tennis squads, Rugby Sevens, and an L.P.G.A. golf event. And, in 2026, Vancouver will likely be a number metropolis for the FIFA Men’s World Cup.
In 2025, Vancouver and Whistler may even host the Invictus Games, a world adaptive sports activities competitors for wounded service members.
As an expert hockey city, Vancouver’s elite tennis résumé has been skinny, with a well-regarded, however second-tier, males’s skilled event lately.
The final time Vancouver was a cease on the lads’s worldwide circuit was in 1973, and the event was sponsored by a cigarette firm. Rod Laver himself received the Vancouver event in 1970, its first yr.
Laver, 85, will likely be a visitor on the staff occasion, which Roger Federer cocreated in his honor. For three days beginning Friday, the Laver Cup will lay out the signature black courtroom inside Rogers Arena to showcase six of the highest gamers from Europe in opposition to six from the remainder of the world. Federer, who retired final yr, will toss the coin within the last doubles match on Sunday.
“There’s no other way to invite the greats of tennis to Vancouver unless they’re playing for their national team,” mentioned Michelle Collens, the senior supervisor of Sport Hosting Vancouver, and the bid orchestrator. “This is our opportunity to put us on the map.”
While Canada has developed current stars like Felix Auger-Aliassime, Denis Shapovalov, Leylah Fernandez and Bianca Andreescu, they’ve emerged from Montreal and Toronto. Those cities host premier tournaments earlier than the United States Open each summer season.
Jonathan Wornell, the manager director of British Columbia’s regional federation, Tennis BC, sees the Laver Cup jump-starting generational change. “I think it will cause that next surge in the sport,” he mentioned.
In reality, it has already begun. Every July, Vancouver has one of many largest novice tennis tournaments in North America. This yr, that occasion — the Stanley Park Open — drew 1,700 members of all ages, 200 greater than in 2022.
Since 2019, gamers in colleges and improvement applications have doubled, to 24,611 in 2022 from 12,260 members in 2019, based on Tennis BC.
Juniors are clamoring for spots, and never simply in tournaments. The Laver Cup held tryouts for ball children that drew 360 rivals for simply 24 slots.
“The demand for ball kids was insane,” mentioned Sierra Roberts, the supervisor of the Laver Cup ball crew. “There’s just so much buzz.
“For a lot of the juniors who are going pro,” she mentioned, the gamers within the event are “the heroes they never get to watch or be a ball kid for.”
Helping youth was the place this bid started — at a golf event. In September 2018, Collens was at a charity golf occasion outdoors Vancouver elevating cash for native kids to play organized sports activities, when she was paired with Dave Pentland, a transport govt. He was additionally an avid tennis participant.
“I asked him, ‘What do you think about the Laver Cup — is this for real?’” she mentioned. Pentland promised to let her know, as he was leaving the following day for the second iteration of the occasion, in Chicago. He despatched Collens dazzling photos from the hospitality suites and courtroom; his contacts bought Zacks in contact with Collens.
As an occasion supervisor for the 2010 Winter Games, Collens specialised in hospitality. In 2019, she had designers make an app for Zacks’s scouting staff that held a digital itinerary, with the Laver Cup brand on every web site on a map. A mixologist made specialty cocktails named for metropolis highlights.
Still, Boston received for the 2020 occasion, which was then moved to 2021 due to Covid. The occasion alternates between Europe and world websites, and London was chosen for 2022. By then, the Laver Cup had engaged a London-based agency to deal with hovering curiosity from about 60 cities, Zacks mentioned.
Vancouver, with its established relationship and worldwide attract, beat out some 20 cities vying to host in 2023 “the Ryder Cup of tennis,” as Zacks calls it. The Laver Cup’s mission, he added, has been to develop the sport, bringing it to “new fans and new locations.”
The occasion begins Thursday with a observe session for the neighborhood in Rogers Arena, with ticket proceeds going to a neighborhood charity. That evening, company and gamers will attend a black-tie gala within the glass-windowed conference heart overlooking the harbor. The Olympic Cauldron, resting in a fountain outdoors, will likely be lit up within the colours of purple (for Team World, together with Canada and the United States) and blue (Team Europe).
One wrinkle within the meticulous plan appeared when Coldplay bought out two live shows throughout the Laver Cup at BC Place, a 55,000-seat venue immediately throughout the road from Rogers Arena, with 17,000 seats for tennis. Prices for lodge rooms skyrocketed, Collens acknowledged.
But she reassured Laver Cup officers that they’d dealt with far larger crowds and simultaneous occasions, together with the Winter Olympics.
“‘I invited you to my city,’” Collens mentioned she instructed them. “‘I’m going to hold your hand and make sure you have a seamless experience setting this up.’”