Little-known Canadian goes it alone; Adil Shamasdin plays tennis his own way

Little-known Canadian goes it alone; Adil Shamasdin plays tennis his own way

By Peter Figura

NEWPORT, R.I. - He ranks in the top 100 in world doubles and joined fellow Canadians Daniel Nestor and Milos Raonic in winning a tournament on the ATP Tour this year.

But Adil Shamasdin remains an unknown, even among hardcore tennis fans.

A former all-American in doubles at Brown University, Shamasdin has learned to go his own way.

"I got four or five wild cards from Tennis Canada, but that was it," he said during a short break in practice Tuesday at the Campbell's Hall of Fame Tennis Championships.

All those wild cards were for tournament singles play, though, and Shamasdin realized that doubles was his game.

The wild cards were less and less available and, when he got one, he often had to play with a partner of Tennis Canada's choice.

With early losses costly — denying him the points needed to get direct entry into future events — Shamasdin opted to go it alone.

"I decided to do it my own way, and with my parents' help, and with some loans — they are almost paid off," he said with a smile, "and I am having my breakthrough year."

Not only did he win an ATP Tour title in Johannesburg in February with American partner James Cerretani, he also prevailed in two lower-level Challengers events in Quimper, France, and Nottingham, England. He also played the French Open (losing in round of 64) and Wimbledon (round of 32).

The 29-year-old Shamasdin, whose parents emigrated from Kenya, is ranked 69th on the ATP doubles ladder — Nestor is No. 4.

That ranking has not made him rich. He has earned $44,730 US on tour this year with a 7-7 doubles record.

A native of Pickering, who now makes his home in Toronto, he hopes to get the Davis Cup call one day.

In the meantime, he travels the world playing tennis. This week, his partner is Sweden's Johan Brunström. But he would like to find a regular partner, to build some on-court chemistry.

After Newport, he heads to Stuttgart, Germany, where he will team up with Mexico's Santiago Gonzales. Then it's on to Poznan, Poland, to play another Challenger event with Dustin Brown, a Jamaican who now calls Germany home.

After Poznan, he's not sure what's next, although he hopes Tennis Canada will recognize his rankings and offer him a chance to play at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, with a partner of his choice.

That would set him up for the U.S. Open.

The Canadian Press