Podcast titles

The earliest podcasts were released nearly two decades ago, in 2004. 

Today, 66 million episodes on all sorts of topics by all sorts of people are out there in the digital universe, right at your fingertips.

There are tennis podcasts, of course, including two (really) great homegrown offers. 

If you follow the National Bank Open on the tournament’s official websites and on social, you’ve probably seen posts and tags by Match Point Canada (MPC, in English) and Sur la ligne (SLL, in French)–the podcasts associated with the Canadian WTA and ATP events.

When I said they did an excellent job, you don’t have to take my word for it, since both are consistently among the top 10 tennis podcasts in Canada.    

By the end of the 2022 NBO, they were in the top 5 in Canada. Sur la ligne (SLL) was at no.2—a feat for a French-language podcast. The rest of the top 5 was populated by major players: the Tennis Podcast (UK), ATP Tennis Radio Podcast and Tennis Channel Live Podcast.

Photo: Chartable (August 17, 2022)

You’ll find over 200 episodes of MPC and nearly 135 of SLL on streaming platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and Spotify. 

Both teams have smart social media strategies and regularly share posts, photos and results on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. 

SLL is also broadcast on Montréal radio, on BPM Sports.

The weekly episodes are recorded on Monday to catch listeners up on news from the previous week, discuss the major tournaments that ended the day before and take a look at the updated rankings, which are released on Monday morning.

What’s a podcast?

Photo: Mattstoller.substack.com

Before going any further, here’s a bit of background on this increasingly popular form of communication, which, in the simplest terms, is like an on-demand radio show. 

The tens of millions of podcasts available online are essentially heard, not seen. The vast majority are audio only, though some may include images, charts, photos and videos. 

And Canadians are tuning in in record numbers: 33% of Canadian adults—and 46% of adults between the ages of 18 and 49—listen to podcasts (January 2022). 

Those stats were provided by digital creator and two-time Canadian Podcasting Awards nominee (2020, 2021) Bruno Guglielminetti, who’s hosted over 300 episodes of his weekly magazine Mon Carnet for the past six years.

Photo: Mon Carnet

As a neophyte, I was stunned by the data he shared data. “There were a total of 2,395,000 single-episode or series podcasts available online at the end of last year,” he said. “If you factor in individual episodes, that’s about 66 million shows in the stratosphere of the vast World Wide Web. That said, the data show that only 23% are what are active productions, like Match Point Canada and Sur la ligne.”

And like Mon Carnet, which has logged more than 300 episodes since 2016 and averages 15,000 weekly listeners (two-thirds in Canada and the others in Europe).

Now that the basics have been covered, let’s meet the people who make these digital-audio successes possible.

Match Point Canada

Photo: Nina Channen (Ben Lewis, Bianca Andreescu and Mike McIntyre)

English-speaking tennis fans turn to Ben Lewis and Mike McIntyre. They’ve released more than 200 episodes and shared their conversations with national and international tennis stars.  

“Aside from Canadian stars like Bianca Andreescu, Leylah Annie Fernandez, Genie Bouchard, Denis Shapovalov and Félix Auger-Aliassime, who’ve been regulars on the podcast, we’ve had some of the best tennis players, past and present, on the show,” McIntyre said proudly.

“Some of the bigger names include Andy Roddick, Pam Shriver, Patrick Mouratoglou, Coco Gauff, Simona Halep and my personal favourite, Jimmy Connors, who was the first tennis player I remember watching back when I was a kid! Of the many tennis podcasts that exist today, ours is the only one that can claim to have as many regular guests from the upper levels of the tennis world, and that’s something Ben and I are extremely proud of, since we’re responsible for booking all our guests ourselves.”

Sur la ligne

Sur la ligne, which recently passed the 130-episode mark, started in the midst of the pandemic, in 2020. It’s hosted by Alexandre Régimbald, Nicholas Richard and Hugues Léger, who happens to be an excellent tennis player and aficionado andalso oversees marketing and partnerships.

Photo: Sur la ligne

After dozens of hours of broadcasting during the 2022 National Bank Open in Montréal, the SLL team had a whole lot to be proud of. Pictured here are host Alexandre Régimbald, social media manager and photographer Sarah-Jäde Champagne, social media contributors Nickolas Bergeron and Abraham Santerre (bottom row) and hosts Hugues Léger and Nicholas Richard.

Advanced statistics expert Robby Ménard, Tennis Canada’s director of communications Valérie Tétreault and coaches Sylvain Bruneau and Isade Juneau are all regular contributors. 

At the NBO, Juneau even combined (tennis) business with pleasure when he hit with none other than Nick Kyrgios. Note the SLL cap Juneau donned for the occasion. 

Photo: Nickolas Bergeron

SLL’s list of guests from here and around the world is impressive. “We’ve broadcast interviews with Casper Ruud, Jannik Sinner, Stan Wawrinka and Daria Kasatkina,” said Hugues Léger, who also mentioned the podcasters’ talks with tennis talents from Québec and Canada. “Rebecca Marino, Alexis Galarneau, Liam Draxl and Victoria Mboko have been on our show and so were former players Marie-Ève Pelletier and Aleksandra Wozniak. Not to mention Tennis Canada CEO Michael Downey and even renowned American journalist Ben Rothenberg.”

But according to Léger, one of the keys to SLL’s success is its social strategy. “Every day, we’re on top of the news from the WTA, ATP, ITF and, of course, Tennis Canada. We’re on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, and we share the results of major matches throughout the season. I’d add that we’re present in every major tennis community on social media in Canada and France.”

For the love of the game

Photo: Medium.com

It’s important to emphasize that both podcasts are driven by people who love tennis. They aren’t volunteers, but the income they gain through partnerships isn’t enough to make a living. MPC and SLL are passion projects the teams intend to pursue for a long time.

“Along with players’ agents, coaches, media personalities and the players themselves, we’ve established our presence among the top tennis podcasts in the world and have seen our following grow exponentially in our four years as Match Point Canada,” explained Mike McIntyre when asked about the passion that drives him and Ben Lewis. “We’ve been accredited at Grand Slams, Masters and WTA 1000 events, Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup, as well as other tournaments and tennis exhibitions all over the world, and really look forward to continuing our positive relationship with Tennis Canada and with our listeners for years to come.”

As for the question that has been asked many, many times over the past five years about radio dying out, Bruno Guglielminetti says the industry can rest easy: “Radio is here to stay. Audio on demand is simply taking its own place in the information and entertainment ecosystem.”