Written by: Art Dyson
***Art Dyson was a provincially and nationally ranked junior player. At 17, he was selected to train in Tennis Canada’s elite junior program. He elected to pursue his education in Canada, and graduated with an honors B.A. in Political Science from McGill University in 1991. He worked in the film business until age 27, when he rediscovered his love of the game. From age 27 to 37 he competed as both player and player/coach in numerous satellites, futures and money tournaments. He attained an open mens national rank of 22, and held down a year end open rank of 32 between the ages of 34-37. He also attained a world ITF over 35 ranking of 52. As fate would have it, he is now back in the film business, currently producing a documentary called ‘Working Class Heros’, a story about the history of high school football in Toronto from the 1920s to the present.***
This article has been written in response to another article “Nice Plan, But No Follow Up” written by Pierre ‘The Bear’ Lamarche. If you think differently and would like to share your opinion with the other ONcourt readers, please do not hesitate and leave your comment here.
Gotta agree with you here, but have to add a couple of points. When Tennis Canada got the bright idea of bolstering the tournament structure about 10 plus years ago, the result was the creation of 6 or 7 open money tournaments to comprise a Canadian circuit. In the men’s field of say 32 main draw and 64 qualifying, you might get one or two foreign players who probably ‘just happened to be around and felt like playing a tournament.’
Contrast this with a fairly regular scene in, say a futures tourney in Boca Raton. It would not be unusual to see 250 players show up…from all corners…just for the qualifying.
It is great to talk about training cycles and peak performance…yada yada. Local players will go nowhere without constant exposure to the deepest and best field of competition available. We have a very small field in Canada, so I say, bring the world to our doorstep at way less a cost than 4 clay courts in Jerry Park.
A casual look at the schedule will show top tennis countries–Spain, U.S., Germany, France, Argentina with around 25-30 futures events a year. This gives any kid a shot at measuring their game, from an early age, against the best, at a much reduced cost.
I’d rather see 10 of the best U16 players duke it out all year long against better competition than send one or two abroad for the same money to world ITF junior tourneys. Better odds of producing a higher quality field of homegrown players.
Last point: Can’t recall the exact stats, but most great players, if they are to succeed, usually do so in spite of their federations. A federation or academy can only develop and solidify whatever potential already exists in a player. Politics have led many great players to steer clear of their federations and just get on with the task of becoming great (Henman, Rusedski, Murray). Yet federations want some credit for their ‘successfull’ development programs. Pouring money into one or two players, or an elite ‘training centre’ are usually fairly standard solutions for bureaucrats trying to find a purposeful strategy. Meting out coaching certificates, in our country, has become a somewhat curious justification of bureaucratic existence. (Reminder: Two of the most successful coaches in recent history, Uncle Tony and Richard Williams might not pass the on court test for a Coach 1 certificate)
So, while some delicate egos at Tennis Canada might be bruised a bit by giving up the only means of ‘control’ they have traditionally gotten nowhere with, I say let it ride. Put the money into 30 mens/womans futures tourneys a year and see how our Canadian talent measures up…after five years that is.