Written by: Pierre ‘The Bear’ Lamarche
***Pierre Lamarche has been an outspoken proponent of Canadian tennis and how the sport should have a major place in the Canadian sport landscape. He believes this lofty ambition can only be achieved through the combination of success on the international professional competitive scene, with the required domestic infrastructure and a true partnership between Tennis Canada and the tennis private sector.
His comments are often taken as critical by those who feel targeted by his questions. His background as a player, coach, and leader [see background] in the sport and coaching industry warrants that his views, which are shared by many others, be given due process by anyone [or organization] who really wants to help Canadian Tennis achieve the proper national status it deserves in the sport community.***
One week after being front and center in Canada’s great semi-final run in Davis Cup in Belgrade, Michael Downey, CEO and president of Tennis Canada, has informed the TC Board of Directors that he was leaving to become the Chief Executive of the Lawn Tennis Association as of January 6th, 2014.
Michael Downey has been a major force in helping tennis rebuild its image as a major sport in our country. First and foremost his leadership skills and his business acumen provided the opportunities for Tennis Canada to achieve profits which clearly benefited tennis development. The selling and operations of the Opens coupled with great fund raising initiatives brought about major financial resources to the organization.
His role in establishing Montreal as a major national center brought substantial provincial and municipal government subsidies which again helped the growth of the development budget. Some of these initiatives might not have been universally supported [the cost of building clay courts was astronomical at Jarry] but they grew the resources of Tennis Canada.
His tenure at Tennis Canada was certainly helped by the Milos Raonic phenomena and the outstanding performances of Peliwo and Bouchard in winning Wimbledon junior crowns. He also made sure that these athletes and the Davis Cup team received the financial and human resources support required to achieve these outstanding performances on the world scene.
Michael is a very kind person, heavily respected by everyone especially by his staff. His leadership will certainly be missed at Tennis Canada in view of the many changes that loom on the horizon. Bob Brett who was only answerable to Michael Downey has now left Tennis Canada which means that Ontario and the rest of Canada [not Quebec] will be under new guidance in the development area. Louis Borfiga from Montreal will now assume these responsibilities. He is a very competent individual but a lot needs to be done to re-establish the strained relationships due to policies which clearly were unfriendly towards the many Academies and Indoor clubs. These Academies and Indoor clubs are major resources for player development in this country. This is an opportunity to make it right.
As for me, the Bear, I always liked Michael Downey although he must have thought of me as an annoying voice. I never questioned his intentions but I certainly questioned the development policies that were championed by him. These policies, as he admitted, were not his own creation but those of the people he trusted. He was always loyal to them and I respected him for that. I personally believe we need more initiatives at the entry level right across the country, not just in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. We need strategies to bring tennis to many more communities that create the Crosby’s and the Gretsky’s of this world. We also need to harness the resources of year- round facilities which are the Golden Goose of Tennis Canada.
Michael Downey’s legacy at Tennis Canada is without a doubt second to none. I am sad to see him go after losing Greg Rusedski and Louis Cayer to the Brits. How ironic to have all three of them working for the LTA!
Britain 3, Canada 0
Go Canada Go
This is some text prior to the author information. You can change this text from the admin section of WP-Gravatar To change this standard text, you have to enter some information about your self in the Dashboard -> Users -> Your Profile box.