At around 10:45 a.m. on Thursday, Brayden Schnur made his entrance on the Esplanade at Parc olympique for the festivities to launch Mini Rogers Cup.
Calm and smiling, the 22-year-old from Pickering, Ontario patiently waited in silence near the podium for instructions. The press conference was about to begin.
It took less than 20 minutes for the first kids on site to realize that they were standing with a professional tennis player who made his debut in the ATP Top 200 last week and currently sits at world no. 194. A long autograph and photo-op session followed—something he would never have imagined just a year ago.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Schnur. “Right now, I realize I’m so close to one of my goals, to be in the Top 100. To see myself within 100 spots of doing that is pretty special. It’s really motivating. I push myself everyday at practice, I’m enjoying the experience and loving my first year playing pro.”
After two and a half years on the tennis team at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Schnur felt ready to take the next big step and try his luck on the ATP Tour. So far, the risk has paid off.
“It’s another way to have a career,” said Rogers Cup tournament director Eugène Lapierre. “When kids come off the junior circuit, they have to ask themselves if they’re ready to be on the pro tour. Should they play university tennis in the US? Some are ready and want to test their skills on the pro tour right away. That means playing Futures events, playing Challenger events . . . It’s not easy. You have to move up fast and get through the stage quickly because spending a lot of time there is difficult.”
“In my opinion, Brayden made the right choice when he went to university in the US,” added Lapierre. “But now, he’s giving the pro tour a try and it’s working out. I saw him play in Granby last week: big serve, solid game and he looks like he’s having fun out there. Let’s hope he keeps progressing and maybe one day makes it into the Top 100. […] We wish him the best of luck.”
Schnur arrived in Montréal with a wildcard for the main draw of Rogers Cup for the second time in his career. In Toronto in 2014, he won his two qualifying matches but lost in the first round to Andreas Seppi of Italy.
“I qualified here three years ago, so I’m just trying to get the same mindset,” said Schnur. “I was playing loose, I was having fun, playing my game. I’ve had a really good year so far so I’m just trying to build on that. I’m playing some really good tennis coming into the event and I know that if I can play my game, anything can happen.”