Canada’s Vasek Pospisil serves to Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic during their singles match at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Montreal on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. Pospisil upset the No. 5 seed Berdych 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5) to advance to the quarter-finals.
Photograph by: Paul Chiasson, THE CANADIAN PRESS
There was no doubt, absolutely none, in the mind of Ryan Clark that Vasek Pospisil had the goods when he first saw him play tennis as a junior.
Clark was the CEO of Tennis B.C. back then – a post he held for nine years before leaving in 2012 to run his own sports management company – so he was there on the ground when young Vasek appeared.
“Was Vasek just another kid? Oh, no,” Clark said Thursday after Pospisil stunned world No. 6 Tomas Berdych 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5) at the Rogers Cup in Montreal. “We knew he had something special from the start. You could tell he had the talent, the ability and the drive. He wasn't just a kid who happened to fall into the sport and was just kind of playing it to see what might happen. He was driven early and he knew that he wanted to be a player.”
Pospisil, who captured the Odlum Brown VanOpen title on Sunday, carried his momentum to Montreal where he opened Tuesday by knocking off world No. 20 John Isner in three sets. He then dispatched world No. 51 Radek Stepanek in straight sets Wednesday, setting the table for his dramatic three-set victory over Berdych.
It was Pospisil's first win over a top-10 player and moved him into the Rogers Cup quarter-finals. This is the farthest he has advanced in a full ATP event. Following the match, the 23-year-old Vancouver resident kissed the court and then teared up in a TV interview. Pospisil entered the Rogers Cup ranked No. 71 in the world.
“All the emotion probably came out as he realized what he had just accomplished,” said Clark, the VanOpen tournament director. “It's been a great last 10 days for him, winning the VanOpen at home in dramatic fashion after being down three match points, pulling that out and then going into the Rogers Cup and taking out top-name players. You could say Vasek has officially arrived. There is no doubt he has arrived.”
Clark said he first noticed Pospisil's potential just prior to the Vernon native winning the under-14 nationals. Then he received a better look when Pospisil was 15.
“In 2005, the VanOpen became both a men's and women's tournament and we gave Vasek a wild-card into the qualifying,” Clark explained. “As a 15-year-old, he handled himself really well, and respectfully, and that told us something right there. He was aggressive, he was going after his shots, he was confident and he was composed. He had a lot of those professional features at a young age.”
Clark also noted that much of the credit for Pospisil's development is due to the sacrifices made by his parents Milos and Mila.
“I think there are a lot of people in B.C. smiling over what Vasek has done here but I would say the people who deserve the biggest pat on the back are his parents,” Clark added. “Outside of Vasek himself, his parents deserve all the credit for making this happen… you know, moving to Vancouver from Vernon, travelling with him to tournaments in California and Florida.
“So his family was really the driving force. All the rest of us were role players, helping to provide platforms for him.”
Pospisil will meet Russian Nikolay Davydenko in his quarter-final match on Friday.
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