Doug Burke: ‘One of the Best Guys’


***Douglas Burke was Canadian Junior champion Under 18 in 1981. His family had moved to Canada in 1978 from Jamaica. After University at Sothern Illinois, where he played with Grand Slam doubles winners Ken Flack and Robert Seguso [husband of Carling Bassett] he returned to Canada to be coached by Pierre Lamarche at the All-Canadian Academy. There he trained with Hatem Mcdadi, Chris Pridham, Grant Connell, Simon Bartram, Daniel Nestor – all players which helped carry Canada’s colors in the 1980’s. It was decided, given the opportunity, to play Davis Cup for Jamaica where he shined as a player with teammate Karl Hale, before becoming National Coach/Tennis Director  for the Carribbean country for the last 17 years. It has been announced that he is leaving his full time position with Tennis Jamaica. His son Brandon was recently named Ivy League rookie of the year at Brown University where he plays doubles with Canadian Soufiane Azargui.***


ONcourt: You are one of many great athletes from Jamaica which have represented Canada and brought honour to this country. Why is there such a strong Jamaican representation in Canadian athletes?

Doug Burke: There is a strong connection between Jamaica and Canada. Canada is a very multicultural country as it has accepted people from many different countries, including Jamaica for a long time. The natural athletic gifts of Jamaicans, especially in track and field, are well-known. Over the years many Jamaicans/Canadians have gotten the opportunity to express their athletic talents.

ONcourt: When you started, how did you feel when you were a kid from Jamaica playing in Canada?

Doug Burke: It was a very different playing environment for me at first here in Canada, playing indoors with new people etc. However I lived with a very nice tennis family in Toronto, the Senns, and this helped with the adjustment. I also enjoyed the regular competition, as I got the chance to play more tournaments than in Jamaica.

ONcourt: You are one of the guys that is loved by everyone. What is it about you that attracts people to you?

Doug Burke: I’m not sure. I genuinely enjoy meeting different people, and I think I am accepting and not too judgemental. I’m also loyal. Maybe this has something to do with it.

ONcourt: Your son Brandon was a top ITF junior player, just won Rookie of the Year in the Ivy League. How was your relationship with him as a parent/player/coach? And what can you tell us that would help other parents in the same situation?

Doug Burke: It can get tricky and difficult to find a healthy balance, as many people know, when one has a child in competitive sport. I think it is important when the child is developing his or her tennis, that we find coaches that we trust to work with the child (even if the parent is a coach), to create some space, and the parent can observe from a distance. I have tried not to compare him too much to myself when I was playing, as conditions are very different now, and he is his own person. I think we should monitor to make sure the child continues to enjoy the game.

ONcourt: You gave your heart and soul to Jamaican tennis for eighteen years, how hurt are you by the way your departure from the association occurred?

Doug Burke: I was disappointed in the fact that I felt like I didn’t get the support of some of the leading senior players who I’d done a lot with in Davis Cup etc, and felt like I had played a significant role in their development. The Jamaican Sporting Fraternity is used to athletes excelling, especially in track and field, so sometimes they have unrealistic expectations with the limited resources available.

ONcourt: Would this disappointment ever stop you from doing it again?

Doug Burke: No, it wouldn’t. I think I have been able to positively affect the lives of many young people (many of whom come from financially challenged situations) and help create opportunities for them.  However, with the experience I have gained, I would do some things a bit differently.

ONcourt: Would you ever come back and contribute to Canadian tennis?

Doug Burke: Yes I would. Sometimes it is good to get a different perspective on things, and one can continue to assist Jamaica, which I will always love, from afar.

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.