MONTREAL – If the Canadians fans on hand for Sunday's decisive day at the Fed Cup tie against Romania want to make their presence felt and make a difference, they need to step it up.
It comes as no surprise to anyone who knows how large the Romanian community is in Montreal, and how supportive it is (Olympic legend Nadia Comaneci found a home here, once upon a time) that they would turn out in large numbers to support their countrywomen.
They came in multi-generational multitudes, making the various Canadians in the crowd and the small band of more vocal supporters in the upper seating area look tame by comparison. They didn't even have any big "monster heads" of their players to wave around. And top Romanian player Simona Halep, ranked No. 3 in the world and now a superstar in her native country, isn't even here.
On the flag count (a rough estimate), they outnumbered the Canadians by a factor of 10.
The Romanians even had a massive flag, which they draped over a big section of the stands at the top. There was no Canadian equivalent.
Most conspicuous in their absence? Any representation from the local chapter of the Genie Army. At the last tie in Montreal, a year ago February, they got lots of attention, even from Bouchard herself.
This time? Nothing at all. Perhaps they were studying for finals. They Tweeted Sunday morning that they were on their way to Montreal to lend support for the second day.
The Montreal Canadiens, in the thick of their series against the Ottawa Senators, weren't playing on Saturday. But they definitely have gotten the lion's share of the sports media attention this week.
One fan in the crowd told Eh Game that there had been basically no publicity – at least not any they had seen. Bouchard's late acceptance of the invitation (Sunday) probably didn't help matters there. And there's an entire generation of fans who actually buy tickets and attend tennis events who aren't on Twitter and don't pay as close attention to the goings-on as those who live their fandom primarily on the Internet.
Ticket sales definitely surged after the Bouchard announcement; prior to that, perhaps 500 tickets had been sold for each day – and the ticket prices were more than reasonable. But still, despite the announced attendance of 2,294. It seemed like less than that in an arena that can hold a lot more than that.
That's a shame. The Romanians (who weren't out of line, or over-exuberant; they didn't disturb play in any way) definitely helped Alexandra Dulgheru play her very best tennis against Genie Bouchard. The lack of a full house made their presence even more noticeable.
It just didn't seem right to see all that red and yellow in the crowd for an event in Montreal.
If the Canadian fans want to be the extra man (or woman) on the court Sunday, they're going to need to step up their game in a major way.
And the Canadian team will need their help.