Tennis on Wheels – Joel Dembe Going for the Top

At the age of 27 Joel Dembe is still one of the youngest wheelchair tennis players in Canada.  “The best player in Canada is 10 years older,” says Joel, getting ready for his practice session at the Toronto Tennis Academy where he trains with his coach Ben Armstrong. “But this is why I want to take time off work and focus 100% on my game. If I want to be the best in the country, I really have to practice every day and play many more tournaments.”

So next month Joel will start his journey to accomplish just that: to be the number one wheelchair tennis player in Canada, and represent the country at the 2012 Paralympics Games in London.  “I have about a year and a half to get ready,” Joel says.  Playing every day will definitely help, but there is also the fitness aspect, and tournament play.  Because of his work schedule (Joel works at TD as a marketing analyst), playing a full schedule was never possible, so there was that extra pressure to do well. “Now,” says Joel, “I am planning to play in about 18 tournaments, mainly in the US and Canada, but perhaps in places as far as South Africa.”

Joel figures now is the best time to fully commit to tennis. “You know, when you get a bit older you just have to slow down a bit,” he says with a wry grin. “But I still hope to represent Canada at the 2015 PanAm Paralympics in Toronto. And to think, it all started about ten years ago at a wheel chair tennis demonstration in Hamilton, where Frank Peter Jr., Canada’s former top wheelchair tennis player, was trying to pass on his own passion for the sport to kids like Joel.

“I was always active, playing sledge hockey, participating in track and field, but the moment I took the tennis racquet in my hands I simply knew that this was going to be my sport.”

A decade later, Joel is ranked number 3 in Canada and 77 in the World.  “But I really hope that this next several months of solid training will help me to get that much better so I can take over the number one ranking in the country ,” says Joel with the determination befitting his lofty ambitions.

A New Reality By Nicolas Pereira

This past week in the World Team Tennis ‘Bubble” I have seen the efforts to keep everyone safe while carrying on a team competition with around 60/70 players and coaches onsite. Counting organizers, officials, media, and support personnel are around 150 people trying hard to make this happen. I am very impressed by how the strict protocol has been handled and how everyone is invested in making this event a success, but The Open is a completely different scale of details.

ONcourt Interviews NGTL Co-Founder Yves Boulais

It does not matter that you get your rating playing locally or that you had spent an insidious amount of money playing the ITF junior tour tournaments. Your rating is your level of play (you get no bonus for playing more or playing far away). This allows us to break free of the ITF competitive structure potentially saving us time, money, and headache. We see this as a great opportunity to improve the logistic of our sport.

Brandon Burke (son of ACE President Doug Burke) Elected to WTA Board

As revealed in a recent news release issued by the WTA Tour – Brandon Burke has been elected to the WTA Board of Directors (to start officially in September). Oncourt got together with Brandon to delve a bit more into his background and to gain some insight into this wonderful appointment he has attained at such a young age.