The Best of the Best
Lou Marsh Trophy voting day. Always circled on my calendar, particularly as long as I've been privileged to vote on Canada's most coveted athlete-of-the-year award.
Tough year to evaluate, in many ways. Going in, I know who I'd love to see win, but won't see win. But I would say it was the finest performance by a Canadian athlete I witnessed in 2011.
That came in September in Tel Aviv, Israel when Vancouver's Vasek Pospisil, previously known mostly for teaming up with Milos Raonic to beat Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in a doubles match the year before, nearly singlehandedly pushed Canada's Davis Cup team past the highly-ranked Israelis and into the World Group for the first time since 2004.
Davis Cup isn't exactly at the top of Canada's sporting agenda, largely because we've rarely accomplished much in the 111-year-old competition, which is one of the largest in the world with 130 participating nations. Israel had been a world semi-finalist two years earlier, and Canada went into the competition as a significant underdog largely because Raonic, the country's top singles player, had been off for three months following hip surgery.
As it turned out, Raonic played only one match, lost, and then couldn't play his singles match. Pospisil, meanwhile, started by defeating Israel's No. 1 player, Dudi Sela, teamed with veteran Daniel Nestor to upset the highly-ranked Israeli doubles team and then, in the final match before an incredibly hostile crowd, won his final singles match over Amir Weintraub - the player who had beaten Raonic - to give Canada the victory.
It was a stunning, spectacular performance by Pospisil over three days in wilting heat, and vaulted Cansda into a tie with highly ranked France this coming February in Pospisil's hometown of Vancouver.
With big names like Patrick Chan out there, few will remember Pospisil's performance in today's Lou March voting. Heck, if a tennis player gets any votes, it will probably be Raonic.
But let it be noted here that Pospisil, to my mind, delivered a memorable and noteworthy performance that day in Tel Aviv. He won't win, and probably shouldn't, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't remember and acknowledge his achievement.