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Bianca Andreescu misses shot at connecting with Montreal fans


I would like to inform you, dear reader, that Bianca Andreescu is happy to be back in Montreal, the city where she honed her considerable skills at Tennis Canada’s national training centre.

I would like to tell you that the 19-year-old who captured the hearts of Canadian sports fans with her brilliant run to the U.S. Open title this month, is looking forward to defending her Rogers Cup title when the Canadian Open women’s event returns to Jarry Park next summer.

I’d like to offer you insights on her future plans and her health.

I can’t do any of those things because Andreescu breezed into town to resume her training this week and her team decided she wasn’t going to speak with the media because she wanted to stay focused on tennis. The decision was reportedly made by her New York-based agent.

Tennis Canada sent out the following invitation:

“Back in Montreal after her historic win at the U.S. Open, Bianca Andreescu will be holding a practice session open to the public on Monday.

“Members of the media are invited to capture images (video and photo) of the practice. Please note that no interviews will be given.”

That invitation to shoot photos is known as a media opportunity but, in fact, it represents a lost opportunity.

Andreescu has missed an opportunity to connect with her fans in Montreal. While the concept is often lost on public relations types, the media has traditionally served as a conduit between the athletes and public and I know there are fans here who would appreciate a few words from Andreescu, whose unfiltered interviews during the U.S. Open were delightful. In these days of social media, athletes can communicate directly with their fans but you won’t find the answer to any of those questions above on her twitter feed.

It was also a missed opportunity for Tennis Canada to hype next summer’s event, although I suspect Bianca-fever will prevail even if this week leaves a few noses out of joint.

I often disagree with my friend Réjean Tremblay, who injects language and nationalism into his commentaries, but he’s right to see Andreescu’s silent treatment as a slap in the face to Montreal.

The city nurtured Andreescu and her game at a training centre funded by taxpayers and tennis fans. The profits from the Rogers Cup make possible Tennis Canada’s development program and Montreal outdraws its Toronto counterpart, especially when the women are in town. This city holds the world record for attendance for a one-week tournament for both men and women.

Andreescu made the round of TV shows in New York after her win, trading bon mots with Robin Roberts, Kelly Ripa, Ryan Seacrest and Jimmy Fallon.

She met the media last week in Toronto even making time for an appearance with Sid and Tim, a comedy duo masquerading as journalists. But she couldn’t find 15-20 minutes to field questions here.

Andreescu and her team could learn from the media-savvy approach taken by fellow teen star Félix Auger-Aliassime. The 19-year-old Montrealer regularly jumps on conference calls from far-flung corners of the world to update the media, patiently answering questions in both official languages. It’s called being a professional.

phickey@postmedia.com

twitter.com/zababes1

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019


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