Quebec's Félix Auger-Aliassime, just 14, makes noise against the experienced pros at Drummondville Challenger

Eh Game
The 14-year-old defeated two much older, far more experienced pros in qualifying at a Challenger in Drummondville, Quebec over the weekend. (Stephanie Myles/opencourt.ca)
The 14-year-old defeated two much older, far more experienced pros in qualifying at a Challenger in Drummondville, Quebec over the weekend. (Stephanie Myles/opencourt.ca)

The danger in having an other-worldly weekend when you're a 14-year-old tennis player is that the hype, the expectations and the attention will start altogether too soon.

But Montreal-born Félix Auger-Aliassime had that kind of weekend in Drummondville, Quebec, a small town about an hour's drive outside Montreal where a Challenger-level tennis tournament with $50,000 in total prize money is being held for the first time.

First, after defeating fellow Canadian junior Jack Lin in the first round, Auger-Aliassime upset Aussie Chris Guccione in a match that went 0-6, 6-3, 6-4, yet took just an hour and 19 minutes.

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To put that into perspective, Guccione is twice Auger-Aliassime's age at 29. He's 6-foot-8 with a massive serve. His career best in singles was No. 67 back in 2008 and he's currently ranked No. 41 in the world in doubles and has played in nine Davis Cup ties for Australia.

Auger-Aliassime, at least according to the official stats, out-aced him.

In the third and final round Monday, Auger-Aliassime defeated Fritz Wolmarans of South Africa 7-6 (4), 6-3 to reach the main draw. While Wolmarans, also 29, isn't as accomplished as Guccione, he has still been inside the top 200 players in the world and played his first pro event in 2002, when Auger-Aliassime was two years old. He's another big, solid man.

Here are some points from that match. The kid flat-out played out of his mind - winner after winner after winner.

To put it into some more perspective, a few weeks ago, Auger-Aliassime was playing an International Tennis Federation junior event in Mexico, where he won both the singles and doubles.

But it wasn't even a top level event (a junior Grand Slam), or a Grade 1 event. Or a Grade 2 event. Or a Grade 3 event. It was a Grade 4 event (Grade 5 being the lowest).

Canadian Davis Cup captain Marty Laurendeau told the local Journal-Express newspaper that it was an "incredible feat".

"Félix is in Drummondville to get some experience in an international tournament and there he goes dispatching a seasoned veteran, a tall lefthander who's 6-foot-7, a member of the (Australian) Davis Cup team and the former (doubles) partner of Lleyton Hewitt," Laurendeau said.

Auger-Aliassime is part of the national training program in Montreal, where the contingent on the boys' side are all pretty much in his age range, perhaps a year older.

Here is he after receiving a bursary for his training, at about age 11. Pretty calm, cool, well-spoken kid even then.

Unfortunately, Auger-Aliassime's story doesn't really have a happy ending – at least not this week.

He had to withdraw from both the singles and doubles in Drummondville with an abdominal strain. As it happens, the player he defeated Monday, Wolmarans, takes his spot as a lucky loser.

It's probably for the best. To defeat two players of that calibre with his lack of age and experience is probably enough for a 14-year-old kid to handle all at once.

Canadian Frank Dancevic, who qualified at Indian Wells but lost his first-round match to Alexandr Dolgopolov (who plays countryman Milos Raonic on Tuesday), made it to Drummondville over the weekend and is the No. 7 seed. Filip Peliwo, who received his fair share of hype just 2 1/2 years ago when he won junior Wimbledon and U.S. Open, is also in the event but faces the No. 2 seed, Germany's Andreas Beck, in the first round.

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