'Genie Army' invades Montreal's Rogers Cup from Australia

A supporter of Eugenie Bouchard holds a sign during her match against Casey Dellacqua at the...

A supporter of Eugenie Bouchard holds a sign during her match against Casey Dellacqua at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Jan. 19, 2014. (Jason Reed/Reuters/Files)

Joanie Godin, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:21 PM ET

MONTREAL - There are six of them, they've come from Melbourne and they're proudly wearing their "Genie Army" apparel as they get ready to cheer their heroine at the Rogers Cup.

The Aussie fan club plans to stay in Montreal for the entire tournament.

They first made world headlines when they sported custom-made red and white t-shirts and banners to cheer on the 20-year-old Montreal star at the Australian Open in January.

The group comprised a dozen members in Melbourne, but only six could afford to make the two-day journey from Down Under.

They tell QMI Agency they never thought their decision to root for Canada's tennis darling would have morphed into a global phenomenon.

"This experience is surreal," said Sarah Biviano, the only woman in the group. "We decided to come here in February or March, so we've been waiting for this for a long time. It's incredible."

They're here with Tennis Canada's help. While the young Aussies paid for the own air fare, the governing body provided them with an apartment close to Uniprix Stadium.

The Genie Army is also accredited for the entire tournament, allowing them to attend every one of Bouchard's matches.

The superfans are also taking part in some official Rogers Cup events such as photo shoots with Bouchard's Canadian supporters.

"We hadn't realized how famous the Genie Army was, because we're so far from all that," said Ryan Gibb, who sported a Genie Army t-shirt. "We had heard about the (fuss), but to be here and see that people recognize us, it really hits home."

The group spontaneously decided to don red and white Canadian gear at the Australian Open, adopting their moniker during Bouchard's opening match in Melbourne. Then they decided to do something special for her second-round match.

"The tradition is that the two finalists receive a stuffed animal at the end of the tournament," said army member Jacob Courios. "We thought it would be nice to give one to Bouchard right away, so we brought her a koala."

They shouted at the athlete to get her attention following her win over Virginie Razzano, but she didn't hear them, so they tossed the koala at her, and it hit her in the head.

"She was a little shocked, but she said thank you," Courios recalled. "She showed (the koala) off at a press conference and that's where it all started."

Bouchard received a new stuffed toy after each of her victories leading up to her semifinal match, where she finally fell to china's Li Na.

"It was getting harder to find Australian animals," said Filippe Ricciardi, laughing. "I think it would have been a crocodile if she had won the tournament."

The founders of the Genie Army hope the movement keeps growing now that it has invaded Canada.

"It would be special to be on the same side as the whole crowd, contrary to what happened in Australia," said Biviano.

What will they do if their favourite player has to face Australian star Samantha Stosur?

"We'll stick behind Genie, that's for sure," said Biviano. "That's why we're here."


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