Bédard, Robert

Robert Bédard, TENNIS player (b at Saint-Hyacinthe, Que 13 Sep 1931). When he was about fifteen, Robert Bédard ventured onto a tennis court for the first time, without having any idea that he would become one of the best tennis players in Canada. Five years later, he carried off the Montréal Cup trophy. This victory led him to concentrate on his next objective of winning the title of top Canadian player.

To do this, he pursued his studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1952-1953, and took advantage of the mild California climate to play tennis all year round, since at this time there were no indoor tennis courts in Québec.

During this season in sunny California, he refined his game, and in the summer of 1953 he became a member of the DAVIS CUP team. His will and determination contributed to his selection to represent Canada for the Davis Cup for ten years (1953 to 1961, and 1967). Through his participation in the Davis Cup he played more than 31 singles and doubles matches.

In late 1953, the Lawn-Tennis Association of Québec, precursor of the Fédération Québécoise de Tennis (now Tennis Québec), ranked him number one.

After placing second in 1954, he won the Canadian Open championship for the first time in 1955, and he repeated this feat in 1957 and 1958. He succeeded in winning the doubles title at this international competition with Don Fontana in 1955, 1957 and 1959. With Mariette Laframboise, his female mixed doubles partner, he won the 1959 finals.

In 1957, he made a three-month tour of Europe. He was a quarterfinalist in the Italian Open but ceded victory in the third round at Roland Garros, and at Wimbledon. Two years later, in September 1959, he took part in the Pan-American Games in Chicago, where he won the singles silver medal.

Through the years, Bédard succeeded in remaining at the forefront of Canadian players. In fact, he ranked number one in Canada from 1956 to 1965. Toward the end of his career, he was involved in the development of his discipline while president of the Fédération Québécoise de Tennis (1967 to 1970). Then, from 1973 to 1977, he was vice-president of Tennis Canada, and was on the Davis Cup selection committee from 1974 to 1976.

In 1971, he was elected to the Loyola College Athletic Hall of Fame. Three years later, he joined the ranks of inductees into the CANADIAN SPORTS HALL OF FAME. The Séminaire de Sherbrooke honoured him as Laureatus alumnus (1975), and he also received the Queen's Jubilee Prize (1977). In 1991, Robert Bédard was inducted into the Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame and the Temple de la renommée des sports du Québec (QUÉBEC SPORTS HALL OF FAME).