Toronto fans support Raonic after his loss at Wimbledon
Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, July 10, 2016 6:17AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, July 10, 2016 7:01PM EDT
TORONTO -- As Canadian Milos Raonic played -- and eventually lost -- his first Wimbledon final, several hundred fans in Toronto cheered him on at a viewing party, their eyes glued to TV screens.
Tennis Canada, the organization that operates the annual Rogers Cup in Toronto and Montreal, organized the party for fans to watch the 25-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., play in his first career Grand Slam final.
Organizers handed out T-shirts emblazoned with Raonic's face. As he appeared on the TV screens, fans cheered, clapped and banged together inflatable Canada-themed noisemakers.
Barbara Dubec, who said she'd been a tennis player since she was 14 years old, attended the event with friends who also play the sport.
"Any Canadian players, we support all the way," she said.
Her friend Diane Galic, who volunteers for Tennis Canada, she was glad to experience the event with other tennis fans.
"It's historic," she said of the match.
The only other Canadian to get this far was Eugenie Bouchard, the women's runner-up at Wimbledon in 2014.
Tennis Canada also has a hand in shaping Canadian players -- the organization has helped arrange for high-profile former tour players to coach promising young Canadians, including Raonic and Bouchard.
Members of the organization and fans of the game tuned in to watch the homegrown Raonic play against British favourite Andy Murray, who beat Raonic 6-4, 7-6, 7-6.
Sharon Mandair said she was conflicted about the game.
"As a British-Canadian, I've always supported Murray," she said. "But now that there's a Canadian and a Briton playing the final, I'd be happy (either way)
"Being here, everyone's on Raonic's side. So that -- plus the underdog story -- is very compelling," she added.
But when Murray won the day, Mandair said she was happy with the outcome.
"It's a win-win," she said.
While it was Raonic's first Grand Slam final, it was the 11th of 29-year-old Murray's career.
"Maybe next year Raonic will get it," Mandair said.
The sentiment was echoed by other fans, hopeful that they'd get to cheer for Raonic again.