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Court is in Session

Rexall Centre
Sports fans in Toronto are never lacking for action in the summer time. From April to September the Blue Jays seek annually to dethrone their Major League Baseball rivals. The Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts find favour through weekly tussles on the gridiron, while our pro soccer squad, Toronto FC, performs on the pitch—much to the delight of its zealous supporters. There’s also thoroughbred horseracing, the ever-popular Honda Indy car race and golf’s Canadian Open. But the season wouldn’t be complete without the Rogers Cup, the country’s most illustrious professional tennis tournament. A tradition for more than 100 years—only Wimbledon and the U.S. Open surpass its longevity—the annual event splits men’s and women’s competition between Toronto and Montreal; this year hogtown playshost to the smokin’ aces of the Women’s Tennis Association circuit.

The Rexall Centre, situated on the York University campus northwest of Toronto’s downtown core, has every kick serve, groundstroke and drop shot across its 12 outdoor hard courts, including a 10,500-seat stadium built to contain some of the sport’s biggest rivalries. Sandwiched between two grand slams—it’s just weeks removed from prestigious Wimbledon and a crucial tune-up for the U.S. Open in early September—the Rogers Cup is a premier stop on the WTA tour calendar, with many first-rate players looking to maintain their best form all the way to the final. At press time, every one of the world’s top 25 ranked professionals had confirmed their participation in the 56-player singles tournament, where they’ll
battle for $2 million in prize money and a place amongst such past champions as Steffi Graf, Monica Seles (a four-time victor!) and Chris Evert.

Dinara Safina claimed the Rogers Cup title in 2008.

Dinara Safina claimed the Rogers Cup title in 2008.

Expect large and boisterous crowds for matches with Serena Williams—the energetic American is fresh off a dominant performance on the grass of the All England Club—as well as her hard-hitting sister, Venus, also a finalist at this year’s Championships at Wimbledon. Both players will be challenged by a bevy of stars including world number one and Rogers Cup defending champion Dinara Safina and her Russian compatriots Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Sharapova, plus other contenders like Canadian seed Aleksandra Wozniak and fan-favourite Kim Clijsters, returning as a wild card after two years in retirement. And while the tournament’s draw system seeks to ensure that the highest-ranked hitters don’t encounter each other until its later rounds, there’s still a chance to see some masterstrokes early in the week: opening night festivities on August 17 are highlighted by an exhibition doubles match featuring Wozniak and Serena Williams alongside tennis legends Monica Seles and Martina Navratilova. The Rogers Cup’s first round begins immediately after, and continues until a winner is crowned on what is sure to be an exciting Sunday, August 23.

Rexall Centre (1 Shoreham Dr., at Jane Street and Steeles Avenue West, 416-665-9777). Daily matinee matches begin at 11 a.m.; evening play starts Monday 6:45 p.m., Tuesday to Friday 7:30 p.m, Saturday
7 p.m. Tickets are $15 to $230 depending on round of play; call 1-877-283-6647 to purchase.

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