What we know about Denis Shapovalov, Richmond Hill’s 18-year-old tennis phenom

What we know about Denis Shapovalov, Richmond Hill’s 18-year-old tennis phenom

Photo from Denis Shapovalov/Instagram

Richmond Hill’s Denis Shapovalov lost Saturday’s semi-final at the Rogers Cup, but you wouldn’t know it from the excitement surrounding the young tennis player. His run deep into the tournament was unprecedented for an 18-year-old. Even more impressive: on his way to the semifinals, he defeated top seed Rafael Nadal. Here’s what we know about the pride of York Region.

He’s been biding his time for years

Nine years before he upset Nadal, Shapovalov posed with him at the 2008 Rogers Cup:

He learned from his mother

Shapovalov was born in Tel Aviv, and his family moved to Canada when he was a baby, according to the Montreal Gazette. He wanted to play hockey—he has the hair for it, after all—but his parents were afraid he’d get hurt. His mother, Tessa, who played tennis in the Soviet Union, launched her own coaching program, TessaTennis, where he could fine-tune his backhand:

Back at it with my coach @adrianofuorivia. Getting ready for 2016 #nikecourt #wilson #offseason #homebase

A post shared by Denis Shapovalov (@denis.shapovalov) on

He’s getting attention from the sports establishment

Wayne Gretzky is a Shapovalov fan. He has said the young player “has ice in his veins.”

Shapovalov is also buds with swimmer Penny Oleksiak:

Great to have @typicalpen at my match tonight at the @couperogers #ImTaller

A post shared by Denis Shapovalov (@denis.shapovalov) on

And he looks at home among some of the world’s top tennis players:

He’s got a strict training regimen

Sportsnet reported that Shapovalov had been training with a coach in Austria, and was set to spend time in Spain.

He takes training breaks to torture fellow athletes:

Made a bet with @denis.shapovalov …lost the bet….then almost lost my bun😲

A post shared by Jonathan Soriano (@sorianojs) on

He also battles rubber bands:

Good workout today with @sirclem_strengthcoach and @sorianojs getting ready for the 🌱

A post shared by Denis Shapovalov (@denis.shapovalov) on

And tempts fate on exercise balls:

He takes chances

Roger Federer watched Shapovalov at Wimbledon, and told the CBC he’d noticed the youngster’s “risky” style of play. “He kept going for the biggest shots: forehands, backhands and serves.”

Sometimes, his approach is even riskier than that. For example, this between-the-legs shot: