Canada’s Denis Shapovalov may be 15th in the world men’s tennis rankings, but he has passions well beyond the court.
Right now, he wants to use his international profile to help save animals.
The 23-year-old Shapovalov, from Richmond Hill, Ont., launched ShapoShelter last week, an initiative to help house rescue pets from around the world. He’s partnered with two shelters in Florida and one in Mexico and is using his ShapoShelter website and social-media accounts to share the stories of animals ready to be adopted.
“I think with the platform that I have, I think it’s perfect to give back and to give these animals a chance,” said Shapovalov on Monday. “Obviously with whatever followers I have the more that we post about these animals all these followers and fans are going to see the stories of these animals.
“It’s just going to give them a better chance to get adopted and have their stories heard.”
Shapovalov, who owns two dogs (Lucky and Nika) and two cats (Rosa and Zeus), said he considered opening a shelter of his own but found it too difficult to balance that responsibility with the rigours of travelling the world on the ATP Tour.
Instead, Shapovalov has partnered the Humane Society of Manatee County, the Humane Society of Greater Miami and Adopta Un Amigo Para Siempre in Mexico City. His ShapoShelter online properties post photos, videos and biographical details of the animals so prospective pet owners can get to know them.
“I’ve always just wanted to help out,” said Shapovalov. “I’ve heard a lot of brutal stories about how these animals are mistreated and it’s honestly heartbreaking.”
Shapovalov’s varied interests away form the court also include producing rap music, with two singles available on streaming platforms.
“I am a tennis player but you know, I’m a person too. I have ambitions and goals in life and some of them are things like this,” said Shapovalov. “I’ve got a huge passion for music, I’ve got a huge passion for animals and I just feel really lucky that I’m on a platform to to help out and give back.”
Shapovalov has had a solid starting to the 2022 season with a 12-7 record. He helped Canada win the ATP Cup in January going 3-1 in singles and advanced to the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam event for the third time in his career, losing to eventual champion Rafal Nadal in five sets at the Australian Open.
However, Shapovalov has struggled with a sore shoulder and elected to skip this week’s Barcelona Open and stay in Florida to heal and train for the upcoming clay-court circuit in Europe.
“Definitely feel like I’m growing as a player,” said Shapovalov, who is targeting the Madrid Open on April 26 for his return. “Obviously, I started the year off really, really well and I feel like even the lows that I’ve had this season have not been have that low.
“I’ve lost some tough matches but I’m still playing some great tennis and I don’t feel like I’m losing myself as much out there anymore.”
Shapovalov said that anyone wishing to support the ShapoShelter program just needs to follow its accounts on Twitter or Instagram.