Bianca Andreescu has won the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s best athlete of 2019 for a tennis season that left jaws dropped all over the Great White North.
But hers wasn’t the only standout moment for sports in this country. Here are our top 11 of the year:
It was an incredible year in sports for the Great White North.
What was your favourite Canadian sports moment of 2019?
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 9, 2019
Raptors win first NBA championship
It was a championship run like no other for the Toronto Raptors. While that may be a cliché, there really was no precedent for winning an NBA title in the country where the sport of basketball was born.
From the moment Kawhi Leonard arrived in Toronto in 2018 in a trade for franchise stalwart DeMar DeRozan, it was championship or bust.
All the criticism of Leonard’s load management throughout the season didn’t matter in the end. From “The Shot” in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinal against the Philadelphia 76ers, to winning the Larry O’Brien Trophy on the road in Game 6 against the Golden State Warriors, the road to glory was a roller coaster of emotions.
Capped off with a ridiculously long parade through the streets of Toronto, the run will be etched into the country’s memory forever.
Kyle Lowry celebrates during the Toronto Raptors championship parade. (Frank Gunn/CP)
Andreescu wins U.S. Open
Andreescu’s name wasn’t well known at the start of this year.
Seemingly out of nowhere, she advanced as a wild card to the final at Indian Wells in March where she beat No. 8 Angelique Kerber. She was 18 years old at the time.
A shoulder injury kept the Thornhill, Ont., native from playing at Wimbledon, but she returned to the court for her hometown tournament, the Rogers Cup. Andreescu marched all the way to the final and defeated Serena Williams after the American was forced to retire due to an injury of her own.
The cards lined up perfectly once again in September at the U.S. Open when she met Williams once again, and defeated her to become the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title.
Bianca Andreescu, of Canada, holds up the U.S. Open championship trophy after defeating Serena Williams. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Vlad’s Derby Demolition
An electric buzz hit Rogers Centre in late April when the Toronto Blue Jays called-up their prized prospect, third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
The son of Baseball Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero excelled at every stage of his career up until that point, and the Blue Jays were hopeful his arrival would help their current rebuild. As he walked up to the plate, 28,688 people in attendance rose to their feet as “Old Town Road” blared over the stadium’s speakers.
The rest of Guerrero Jr.’s debut season wasn’t overwhelming, but he did show his strength at the Home Run Derby when he set records for most homers in a single round, 29, and 91 overall despite losing to NL Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso.
He wasn’t the only Blue Jay to make an impression in his debut year as shortstop Bo Bichette opened his time in the majors with an 11-game hitting streak. He was also the first player in MLB history to record 15 extra-base hits in his first 15 games. Infielder Cavan Biggio was also a bright spot.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hits during the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby. (Tony Dejak/AP)
Brooke Henderson sets herself apart
It was only a matter of time before Brooke Henderson became the winningest golfer in Canadian history. At the rate she was winning tournaments, including the CP Women’s Open in 2018, it was bound to happen. The only question was when.
That was answered in June when the now 22-year-old won the Meijer LPGA Classic — her ninth LPGA title — in wire-to-wire fashion.
The victory, her second of the 2019 season, helped her surpass Sandra Post, George Knudson and Mike Weir for the overall national mark.
Brooke Henderson, right, hugs her mom, Darlene Henderson, after winning the Meijer LPA Classic. (Al Goldis/AP)
NBA Draft History
The timing couldn’t have been better. One week after the Raptors hoisted the Larry O’Brien Trophy for the first time, Canada Basketball kept the momentum going at the NBA Draft.
R.J. Barrett, the highly touted guard-forward, went third overall to the New York Knicks after a stellar freshman season at Duke.
The 19-year-old got emotional after having his name called as he hugged father — and Canadian basketball legend — Rowan Barrett.
Five other Canadians — Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Brandon Clarke, Mfiondu Kabengele, Ignas Brazdeikis and Marial Shayok — were selected in the draft to set a record for a country other than the U.S.
RJ Barrett poses for selfies with fans at the NBA Draft. (Julio Cortez/AP)
Bouwmeester finally wins Cup
It took over 1,000 NHL games, but veteran defenceman Jay Bouwmeester finally won his first Stanley Cup in June.
Bouwmeester helped turn the St. Louis Blues‘ season around after they were in last place at the turn of the calendar. The end result was a Game 7 victory over the Boston Bruins for St. Louis’s first-ever Stanley Cup.
It took the Edmonton native 1,184 games and 16 seasons to lift hockey’s greatest prize.
Blue Bombers break Grey Cup drought
The Grey Cup returned to Manitoba for the first time in 29 years in November when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to win the Canadian Football League’s top prize.
Canadian Andrew Harris was the star of the game, scoring both rushing and receiving touchdowns in the victory. The performance came just months after he had to sit out two games due to a suspension for using a banned substance.
He became the first player ever to earn both MVP and Most Outstanding Canadian honours in a Grey Cup.
To put the cherry on top, the 32-year-old is a Winnipeg native.
Canada’s men’s soccer team beats U.S.
It may not have been on soccer’s largest stage, but on a cool October night in Toronto, Canada’s victory over the United States in Nations League men’s soccer was monumental nonetheless.
Canada’s win was the first over the U.S. in 34 years. And they did it with their future and greatest product, Alphonso Davies, scoring in the 2–0 win.
The U.S. was ranked No. 21. Canada was No. 75.
The Canadians lost to the United States the next time out, but there is plenty to look forward to for this team.
Alphonso Davies celebrates a goal against the United States. (Cole Burston/CP)
Improbable Davis Cup run
The odds were stacked against Canada’s Davis Cup team when it arrived in Madrid in November for the world’s longest-running international tennis tournament.
No Milos Raonic and a hurt Felix Auger-Aliassime forced No. 150 Vasek Pospisil into singles action. And he thrived.
Pospisil didn’t lose a set all tournament until the semifinals against Russia, and his solid play in doubles led the Canadians into the final against host Spain. Denis Shapovalov’s strong play can’t be forgotten either.
Facing a strong Spain squad was too much for the Canadians, however, as Shapovalov couldn’t hold off No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the second singles rubber. Still, a historical achievement for Canadian tennis.
Canada’s Denis Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisil celebrate after winning their Davis Cup semifinal doubles match against Russia. (Bernat Armangue/AP)
Soroka’s Midsummer Classic
You had a feeling Mike Soroka was going to have an impressive season from the first time he reached the mound in 2019.
The Calgary native had a delayed start to the season due to injury, but was impressive ever since. In late June, he was selected at just 21 years old to represent his Atlanta Braves at the MLB all-star game. He was the first Canadian rookie since 1999 to make an appearance at the annual event and 16th player from Canada to earn the honour.
He got a chance to enter the game in the sixth inning and threw a scoreless inning of relief for the National League.
His regular season ended with a 13-4 record, 2.68 ERA and 5.6 WAR. Soroka then pitched seven innings and struck out seven while giving up one earned run to get the win in Game 3 of the NLDS against St. Louis.
When all was said and done, Soroka finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting.
Mike Soroka throws during the sixth inning of the MLB All-Star Game. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Hubbard takes over NCAA
Chuba Hubbard may not be a household name yet in Canada, but if this year has taught us anything, it’s that he should be very soon.
The 20-year-old sophomore from Edmonton led NCAA DI football rushing with 1,936 yards for Oklahoma State this season — the most ever by a Canadian. He added 21 rushing touchdowns to tie for second.
Hubbard is eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft, and Canadians will get to see him live during the Texas Bowl on Dec. 27 against Texas A&M.
Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard carries the ball during an NCAA college football game against West Virginia. (Chris Jackson/AP)