INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – Sad news from the world of Canadian tennis.
Eh Game has learned that Bruno Agostinelli, a former professional player who was a Tennis Canada coach based in Toronto, died Wednesday night in a motorcycle accident in Toronto.
Just 28, Agostinelli married wife Andrea last summer. Their baby son was born less than two weeks ago.
"He was one of the nicest and most humble guys around with probably has the best one handed backhand I have ever seen," said former player Jesse Levine, a contemporary of Agostinelli's and currently the new coach of top American player Madison Keys.
Agostinelli, played college tennis at the University of Kentucky and out of nowhere, in 2009, found himself an unlikely Davis Cup hero for Canada.
In a personnel bind, Canadian Davis Cup captain Martin Laurendeau bypassed a few other options (including a teenaged Vasek Pospisil and Raonic, who had been playing Futures tournaments in Europe) and selected Agostinelli to the squad, for the first (and only) time in his career.
He was the fourth man on the squad, named late, and not expected to play. But Peter Polansky had caught a virus and ended up in the hospital. So the college player with some junior experience and almost no professional experience ended up with the fate of the country's Davis Cup effort in his hands.
Agostinelli played the fifth and deciding rubber, on slow red clay down in Peru, when a loss meant the Canadians – already down in the Americas zonal competition – would be relegated to the zonal second division if they lost.
In other words, Davis Cup hell.
The match ended up being held over from Sunday because of darkness, with Agostinelli up two sets to one against Ivan Miranda. He polished off the fourth set on the Monday – after a two-hour delay when gunshots were heard in the stadium.
After a standout career at Kentucky (he was the captain in his final year), Agostinelli tried the pro tour, and had Laurendeau at his side for some of it as a coach.
He played some Futures, a few Challenger events and received a wild card into the Rogers Cup in Montreal that same year where he lost in the first round to, as fate would have it, Peter Polansky.
His career best ranking was No. 978.
Agostinelli went into coaching almost immediately and was part of Tennis Canada's national junior training program, based out of Toronto. The native of Niagara Falls was inducted into its sports hall of fame in January.
Tennis Canada put out the news later Thursday morning, with this quote from CEO Kelly Murumets.
“This news has shocked and saddened our entire organization and the tennis community today. Bruno was simply a terrific person. Humble about his accomplishments, caring and kind towards his players, and passionate about his job, his life and his family. This is a truly devastating loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bruno’s family and everyone who loved him dearly, as we did.”
This Instagram pic is especially poignant today. Condolences to his family.