Remembering Bruno Agostinelli Jr.
Bruno Agostinelli Jr. is being remembered this week with a pro tennis tournament and the dedication of newly renovated tennis courts in Chippawa in his honour. Photos special to BPSN.
Bruno Agostinelli Jr. is always at the forefront in the memories of his family, friends and the Canadian tennis community.
The former Canadian Davis Cup player and collegiate star at the University of Kentucky died at the age of 28 in a motorcycle crash in March 2016.
To honour his life and achievements, the Bruno Agostinelli Jr. Futures pro tennis tournament was launched at White Oaks and the third annual event will wrap up Sunday with the finals at 11 a.m.
In addition, this Saturday at 11 a.m., the City of Niagara Falls will dedicate newly renovated tennis courts at Riverview Park in Chippawa in Agostinelli’s honour. Following the dedication at 11 a.m., members of Canada’s Davis Cup squad will be on hand to sign autographs and put on a tennis demonstration. Among those on hand will be retiring legend Daniel Nestor, rising star Denis Shapovalov and Team Canada captain Frank Dancevic, a Niagara Falls native.
“It is quite overwhelming with everything that is going on,” said Gianluca Agostinelli, the brother of Bruno Jr.
This year’s tennis tournament features 64 singles players in the main draw and 32 teams in the main draw in doubles. There were also 64 players who competed in the qualifying rounds of the tournament. Players are vying for $25,000 in prize money and admission to the event is free.
“The tournament has definitely grown with the number of applicants and the number of players who registered for the event,” Gianluca said. “We saw a small number in the first year and over the years we have seen tremendous growth in the amount of players who are interested in playing.”
That interest translated into a large waiting list in 2018.
“I think the interest comes, in part, from the venue itself — White Oaks is one of the most prestigious clubs in Southern Ontario and we had many returning players — and people also become invested in the tournament itself because it is a commemorative one in honour of Bruno,” Gianluca said. “Many of the players who take part in this event knew Bruno personally, whether it’s as former students or as competitors.
“They come to show their respect for Bruno and obviously to compete in his honour.”
Gianluca is hopeful the tournament can become a fixture on the Canadian tennis scene.
“Tennis Canada has been fantastic and so instrumental in making sure the tournament remains here,” Gianluca said. “We hope that this becomes the norm.”
Equally as humbling as the tennis tournament is the dedication of the tennis courts. About a year and a half ago, Gianluca was browsing on the City of Niagara Falls website and came across the dedication page. He decided to apply for the dedication and later found out city council unanimously endorsed the proposal.
“I was totally taken aback and I was actually watching the city council proceedings on Channel 10 (COGECO),” Gianluca said. “When I saw them approve it, I did get a little emotional.”
Gianluca is thrilled that members of Canada’s Davis Cup team will be on hand for the dedication, especially Shapovalov.
“Bruno was his coach at one point and I remember years ago Bruno talking about how good Denis was going to be later on,” Gianluca said. “He must have been 15 or 16 at that point and to see him on the world stage is phenomenal, and to see him in our own backyard is even greater.”
Bruno Jr. was the national coach for under-14 players at Tennis Canada’s national junior training program in Toronto.