Written by: Pierre 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.
He now starts in ONcourt a series of editorials which specifically provides thoughts for reflection on how to make Canada a tennis superpower.***
The National Tennis Center idea in Montreal is a good one. Using it as the sole training option to achieve international excellence is detrimental to the country, its players, its coaches and its fans.
First of all, let’s clarify this statement. Having a National Center in Montreal and Toronto [and eventually in Vancouver] is a GREAT idea. It provides Tennis Canada with the opportunity to offer great services to the Canadian tennis public. Here are 10 reasons why National Centers are a must:
First, as in Montreal and Toronto, major professional events could also be a yearly occurrence in Vancouver where Tennis Canada’s business arm “The Events” could generate even more money for development while creating more work opportunities for this corporate entity in the sport entertainment field.
Second, these centers should host an ongoing series of competitive events which would help the competitive infrastructure of this country, which has been identified by Tennis Canada and others as insufficient. Can you imagine 40 weeks of tournaments and events in these three locations? We are talking about entry level professional events; some countries run three events in a row at the same location. Why? Because you can run them for less money, then the Events people can generate more sponsorship opportunities, and the national coaches can see firsthand in their backyards the best talent in this country. Not only can you run them for less money, they cost less for the players [there is an idea] who are trying to make it. Of course you could run national, regional and provincial events for juniors, seniors and wheelchair events.
Third, you can provide coaching services to prospective international players and their coaches by providing drop in opportunities to create a feeling of “all in together” by having different pair of professional eyes provide you with feedback and guidance. What a great feeling for the developing player and its committed coach to feel as part of Team Canada.
Fourth, you can provide camps where you regroup younger players and their coaches, introduce them to experts in the field, create a synergy which empowers the players and the coaches while not creating the present feeling of competition amongst the personal coaches and the coaches of the regrouping. There is a difference between two yearly regrouping camps and ten monthly get together.
Fifth, you can use the centers as on-going professional development opportunities for coaches through the offering of seminars and the opportunity of mentoring with qualified international coaches.
Six, you have facilities that can be used for corporate tennis events, promotional activities, fundraising opportunities, good corporate citizen activities [free clinics and play at off times].
Seven, it allows you to hire professional human resources which help the overall development of the sport. This benefit is a major one, unless the qualified players and coaches cannot access these resources or even worse, if these resources do not venture out of their centers and help promote the game in the club, academies, provinces and regions of this country.
Eight, it provides entities and physical plants, which can help Tennis Canada get money from governments for various programs as well as getting corporate financial support through the naming of these facilities.
Nine, it provides good office space at a good rate for “The Events” staff, the administrators of tennis development and the respective provincial associations.
Finally, once you have been able to accomplish all of this, you sell any leftover time for non tennis events, such as concerts, which help make money but do not help directly in the development of the players unless it’s to provide a tune which they can use to have the right rhythm on their serve.
Note: The Bear believes National Tennis Centers are a must in this country. What he will show you in a series of articles is that the use of these National Centers for developing high performance players in the present system is not working but worse, it is harming the development of the sport in this country.
Coming up soon: “Respecting the principles for the development of the proper structure for achieving success”