Photo: Sarah-Jade Champagne
Let's get to know, support and cheer on our Canadian tennis player:
Photo: Martin Sidorjak
Gabriel Diallo, 21, made his ATP debut in August 2022 when he participated as a wild card in the qualifications for the National Bank Open presented by Rogers. He quickly claimed his first professional title when he won the Granby National Bank Championships later that same month. He was also a part of Team Canada presented by Sobeys’ Davis Cup team in 2022, helping them claim the country's first-ever championship.
(Left to right) Frank Dancevic, Alexis Galarneau, Vasek Pospisil, Félix Auger-Aliassime, Denis Shapovalov, Gabriel Diallo. | Photo: Martin Sidorjak
Prior to his professional career, Diallo’s started his development at Tennis Montreal Excellence followed by one year at the Montreal Regional Training Centre. He then trained extensively under the direction of Sam Aliassime at the Aliassime Tennis Academy in Quebec, becoming the U18 national champion. The Montreal native eventually headed to the University of Kentucky on a tennis scholarship, where he helped them reach the program's first-ever NCAA Championship match and compiled a 65-26 overall record in singles. For the past two years, Diallo has been part of Tennis Canada’s men’s transition program under the direction of Martin Laurendeau where he made a breakthrough in 2022, climbing the ATP ranking by more than 500 spots, reaching a career-high of No. 139 in June 2023.
We had the opportunity to ask him a few questions:
CLQ: What are your top three personal accomplishments?
I’d say my first one was reaching the NCAA final as a team for the first time in program history at the University of Kentucky. The second one – winning my home Challenger in Granby in September of last year (2022). And my third one is something that I’m working towards which is getting my bachelor’s degree in Finance, I’m only missing three classes. So those are my three personal accomplishments.
CLQ: What insights can you share about your hometown – particularly their support of you?
I’m someone that’s extremely proud of where I’m from, especially being from Montreal, a big city. My childhood memories are from there, I was born and raised there, it’s where I met all my friends, it’s where I started playing tennis, where I went to school, so there’s never going to be a place on the planet that’s going to feel as much home as Montreal.
In terms of support, I think that last year when I played at the National Bank Open, I was able to witness the support that I really had no idea was there in the first place. My first match in the qualifications I had a nice stadium court, and it was a lot of people from my hometown, a lot of friends, families and even people from the neighbourhood that came to support so I think that it was wonderful.
Photo: Sarah-Jade Champagne
CLQ: What are your favourite hobbies outside of tennis and why?
Outside of tennis, I’m a big reader. I’m currently reading “Killers of the Flower Moon” and the reason I’m reading it is because it’s linked to another hobby that I have which is movies; I really like movies and one of my favourite directors is releasing a movie this year about this book, so I started to read the book. So yeah, I’d say reading, watching movies and when I have time, I like to travel but sometimes not really related to tennis, like go on vacation; I like to discover new places and try new food and discover new cultures.
CLQ: Do you have any other passions? If so, what are they?
I do have other passions outside of tennis. I like to watch whenever Canada’s playing in any sport. I can recall them playing in the World Cup (of soccer) when we were at the Davis Cup in Malaga in November of 2022. We were watching the opening game against Belgium, and we were all getting extremely involved emotionally. I’d say every time Canada plays in any type of sporting event, whether it’s soccer, hockey, or the Olympic Games, I get excited and I’m proud to support fellow Canadians.
CLQ: What has been your proudest moment (in or outside of tennis)?
I would say the proudest moment I had was going to college and following my parents’ tradition. They went to college and they always wanted me to go to college and get a degree. So, the fact that I’m close to achieving that [makes me proud]. I’d say the proudest moment was maybe the first day I stepped on campus and my parents and I kind of slowly realized that “Okay, I’m going to university, I’m going to get a good degree”.
CLQ: Growing up, why did you choose tennis?
It’s a good question, I was playing a bunch of sports growing up because I was moving a lot in the house. I was a really active kid and my parents put me in a bunch of different sports. Tennis and handball were the two that definitely stuck out with me and at maybe 12 or 13 years old I decided to stop handball and really focus only on tennis. Handball was getting really physical, and I liked tennis a little bit more than handball, so decided to stick with it.
CLQ: What advice would you give to a young athlete picking up the sport?
Make sure that you always try your best and to never forget that the important part is to have fun. There’s going to be highs and lows but as long as you keep focusing and keep working and sticking to the process, everything is going to be fine. No matter the circumstances, if you’re happy with where you are then that’s where your focus should be. Don’t let other people outside try to tell you what you should and what you shouldn’t be.
Photo: Sarah-Jade Champagne
CLQ: What are your thoughts going into the National Bank Open?
I’m really excited. It’s going to be my first time playing in Toronto so I’m excited to see what the crowd is going to be like. I always look forward to playing one of the Canadian events, especially this one because it’s the big one. Every Canadian looks forward to playing it.
🎾 Follow Gabriel on Instagram as he takes the court for the National Bank Open.
Interested in attending the National Bank Open? Click HERE
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