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Tennis Canada Academy Draws More Fire

Thu, Mar 22, 2012

a. Featured, b. Coaches

Tennis Canada Academy Draws More Fire

Written by: Lezlie Murch


***Lezlie Murch is an ITF and National Travelling Coach with over 30 years of coaching experience at all levels. She is certified by Tennis Canada and is the President of Niagara Academy of Tennis Inc., Canada’s only athletic and academic full-time sport specific training centre. In 2009, Lezlie won the “Entrepreneur of the Year” award in the “Innovative Small Business” category.***


I was at the provincials at Kew Gardens running around, getting players ready for matches, looking for doubles partners, congratulating the winners, calming those who had lost, calling coaches to see who could drive at 6am the next day, talking with a parent who wanted me to watch their child play and then – whammo! – an OTA employee asked me, “Hey, did you hear that Tennis Canada is starting a Tennis Training Centre in Montreal?” I felt like I had just been punched in the stomach!

To make matters worse, a Tennis Canada employee appeared and was approaching players and parents, telling them about the “new centre” and even provided a document, which indicated how much value each player would be provided – $80,000.00 per player!

Let me back up a little here and give you some background. I have been in the tennis industry for 40 years as a player, coach, administrator, parent, and currently as the owner of Niagara Academy of Tennis Inc. (It is important to note that Niagara Academy of Tennis is a “for-profit” (supposed to be) company and has been in operation since 1997. Niagara Academy employs 7 full-time coaches, 10 teachers and a number of support staff.).

Upon finding out about the “Tennis Canada Academy”, I immediately approached a number of coaches and academy owners to see what they knew about this. Much to my surprise, they knew as much as I did, which was nothing! How could this be? The very association, that is supposed to support us (players, coaches, parents – the industry), was now going to be our competition? Immediately, upon returning home from Provincials, I wrote a letter to Tennis Canada outlining my thoughts and opinions about this endeavour. Of course, all to no avail – it was a done deal.

I have never recovered from this self-serving, self-centered decision and to this day, I do not understand how Tennis Canada can get away with it. What business do they have being in the business of a tennis academy? Is it just because the USTA is doing it (and failing miserably, I must add)? Is it because they don’t trust the very coaches that they certify? Is it because they feel that the Tennis Canada Development Centres are impotent?

I really don’t know what their rationale is. Honestly, at this point I don’t really care. I am tired of expanding my valuable energy on trying to be a member of the Tennis Canada Family. What I do know is that I am in the tennis academy business, and if my association is going to cherry pick players and coaches that my team have put endless hours into developing, then let the competition begin! Yes, it won’t be an even playing field, but it never has been anyway.

The difference now is that a few of us are ready to take a position and make change happen – we have to – to save our industry from being cannibalized by our own association.

I say, let’s unite – let’s do what is right… for this great sport, its coaches and players!

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14 Responses to “Tennis Canada Academy Draws More Fire”

  1. 1
    AJ Says:

    The Director of Niagra Academy of Tennis is scared in her Post.
    WOW she is not only frighten but becoming nasty.

    Tennis Canada has produced Milos Raonic, now they want to invest
    more in Canada’s Tennis juniors by providing facility like USTA.

    Lezlie Murch You have no right to call Tennis Canada impotent,
    it is just showing your state of Business affairs.

    USTA has produced Jack Socks.

    Please behave when you see your competition.

    Being the father of Junior Tennis player, i welcome this decision
    of Tennis canada,

  2. 2
    Mark Paddon Says:

    Competition is healthy. I suggest you offer programs for talented players that are heavily subsidized.

  3. 3
    bob Says:

    Actually Casey Curtis developed Milos! He was 17 when he went to Montreal.

  4. 4
    Alastair Millar Says:


    i was interested to read your article and appreciate the time you took to write it.

    I respectfully disagree with some of your thoughts about tennis Canada’s training center. I think its a little like comparing apples to oranges when we are talking about here is a not for profit organisation like Tennis Canada and a for profit organisations like NAT, TTC or TTA.

    What tennis Canada is doing is trying to give players that they see as having the most potential the opportunity to succeed. They have the funds to do so and if they didn’t then maybe some players would never get the chance that they are getting now. These are financial opportunity’s that i feel your academy or other for profit academy’s would not be able to offer.

    If a player from your academy was given the chance to go train at the national center would you want them to go?

    Lastly you write “then let the competition begin!” what competition are you referring too?

    I do not mean any of my comments or questions to come off as rude, im interested to understand more of your thoughts and you know i love you guys out in Niagara.

  5. 5
    Vlad Says:

    I find both structures NAT and NTC to be integral part in junior development. NAT as an entry level and NTC as an advanced level , I see no competiotion between the two , but I see a need for integration and fur ther recognition.
    P.S. wish there would be more NTC centeres, without more NTC’s tennis future in this country is on the line.

  6. 6
    Hiroud Akhavan Says:

    I think the training centre is a great resource to Canadian tennis and my thoughts are similar to Al Millers.

    The bottom line is “for profit” academies have yet to demonstrate they can provide the opportunities that TC is able to at this point (travel, training, environment, sport science).

    Being a former national champion, I can definitely relate to the difficulties I experienced in finding the right training environment I needed and can surely say many top Canadians from the past would have benefited greatly from having the centre.

    I can understand the concern of various academies and there should be a solution in keeping the player’s private coach involved or at the minimum receive recognition but the most important thing is to do what is best for the player. Without these significant opportunities it will be difficult for a player to reach their full potential.

    In light of recent international results from NTC players, I would think so far the system has faired well. Lastly please consider, if Milos Raonic did not transition to NTC and continued training at the Toronto Cricket Club until 19-20 while trying to make it professionally … would he be where he is today? Maybe it would be best to ask him?

  7. 7
    The TennisMind Says:

    I have seen a girl who demonstrated unbelievable athethism at 8 year old and had very good tennis skills for her age. That girl was picked by Tennis Canada for intensive training program. But when she was 11 year old, Tennis Canada decided that she was not good enough and dumped her out of its program. Now, why would you do that to an 8 year old kid. There are plenty of examples like that where 10 year old kids, 11 or 12 year olds are being dumped by Tennis Canada. This is kind of cruel to treat young children like that! And yes, you can defend your NTC style of trainings for producing a Milos Raonic or a Jack Sock. But really? Do your research properly, Raonic and Sock were developed by private coaches and they were only being cherry picked by NTC in their late teens to help them transition to pros! This is my point, NTC should use its resources to help the best 14 and older players transition to pros and it should have no business training kids younger than 14 year olds!

    Any kids younger than 14 year olds, should be trained by private coaches or academies as this is a very important phase in a kid’s tennis life and only a private coach can delovelop that important initial bond and trust with the student. This is a period where the kid develops love for the game, proper techniques, etc. NTC should only get involve at a later stage when the student is older than 14s by using its resources to help the student transition to pros. Also, it is very important that Tennis Canada uses its resources properly to create more international junior or entry tournaments in Canada to allow our juniors to compete with the best right here in this country, instead of using the funds to send its under 14 selected few players to compete abroad. Imagine if we have our own version of Canadian Orange Bowl for Under 12 and Under 14 right here in Canada!

  8. 8
    Pierre ‘The Bear’ Lamarche Answers Readers’ Questions and Comments | Says:

    [...] AJ: The Director of Niagara Academy of Tennis is scared in her post. Wow, she is not only frightened… [...]

  9. 9
    Shane Hegner Says:

    Hi Elizabeth, how has it been so far?

  10. 10
    Bennie Giessler Says:

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  11. 11
    Cleotilde Hronek Says:

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    I did ANA for 14 days, lost 8 kilos and maintained for 6 months, I’ve reached my first goal.
    Why I kept such a long time without doing any diet?? I was scared to regain all the weight I lost.
    But it didn’t happened.
    Just keep focused and will all be just fine.
    Losing weight , if you are overweight, is healthy, becoming a living corps is another one.
    1,58 m tall and weighing 67 kilos.

  12. 12
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  13. 13
    Gonzalo Picozzi Says:

    “Why not just take a multivitamin?”

  14. 14
    Rosanne Gillcrest Says:

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