It’s been an impressive year for Canadian men’s tennis. Milos Raonic continued his rise up the ATP ranks, finishing the season at No. 13. Filip Peliwo dominated the juniors winning at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, and now 25-year-old Jesse Levine, who has been representing the United States for the last several years, has decided to return to his roots.
Tennis Canada announced Wednesday that the Ottawa native who currently sits at No. 104 in the world rankings – he reached as high as No. 69 in 2012 – has decided he wants to represent his birth country when he takes to the court in 2013.
Levine spent the majority of his childhood in Canada, but moved to Florida with his family when he was 13 and therefore has represented the United States over the course of his career.
“Bringing on Jesse sure adds to the good year we’ve had,” President and CEO of Tennis Canada, Michael Downey said. “We’ve always thought he was a great player and we’ve all got to know him fairly well because he really does carry two nationalities.
“It’s nice that’s he’s decided to come home [and play] for the country he was born in and sure there’s no doubt about it that a player of his calibre adds some depth to our team.”
When he talks about Levine adding depth Downey is referring to Canada’s Davis Cup team, which is getting set to take on Spain – the top ranked country – in a first-round World Group match at the beginning of February. While International Tennis Federation rules will likely keep the 25-year-old from playing for Canada in that match, Downey knows that having him as a part of the team in the future can only help Canada maintain its spot in the World Group where competition is stiff.
Right now Raonic and Vasek Posipisil (No. 125) are the two top-ranked Canadian singles players so Downey is right when he says that bringing a player that is generally ranked in the top-100 can only be beneficial for Canada.
“He’s got a great competitive spirit and that’s also going to be a good addition to the team because the guys know him and they know he’s going to push them hard,” Downey said. “And then he also brings a lefty and to add a singles player who’s a lefty and is well-regarded on the Tour is going to strengthen our team.
“We need that. We’ve got great players but to compete effectively at the Davis Cup level in the World Group is a tough road and to add that kind of depth is terrific for Canada.”
As for why Levine chose to represent Canada now as opposed to earlier in his career?
“He knows our players really well, he grew up with a lot of them, he plays in the Rogers Cup every year, has participated in some fundraising events in Canada before so the connection is deep,” Downey said. “But I think he looked and said ‘Hey, this is a good time for Canadian tennis, Canada is in the World Group and you know what I wouldn’t mind being part of that.’ So I’m sure that played a big factor in why he made the decision at this point in time and we’re ecstatic that he’s thinking that way.”