***Ben Armstrong is the coach of Joel Dembe who has recently become the number one ranked Canadian in the ITF Men’s Wheelchair tennis singles ranking. Armstrong, a many time Tennis Canada Coach of the Year and coach of superstars Sharon Fichman [winner at $50,000 Waterloo Challenger recently] and Dominique Harmath [#1 player for Rice University], is the Tennis Director at Toronto Tennis City for the ACE Tennis program. Together, Ben and Joel set the goal to be #1 and this is how they have gone about doing it. Should you have any questions, please contact Ben at email@example.com***
ONcourt: How did you become involved with Joel?
Ben Armstrong: Joel was without a coach and approached me in October 2008. We did a few trial sessions together and I guess that he liked them. I felt good chemistry with him and we went from there.
ONcourt: How did you develop the plan to help him reach his goals?
Ben Armstrong: We did his short and long term goal setting and then did the action plan (lessons, tournaments, fitness, psychology etc.). At first, I felt like I was pulling teeth. After a little prompting, Joel finally understood and said “to be number one in Canada” , “to win Nationals”, “to go to the Paralympics” etc, etc. The action plan was another story. I felt that we set forth a good plan. However, he simply couldn’t train enough hours and to play enough tournaments in order to achieve to goals as fast as he wanted.
ONcourt: What does he need to achieve next steps?
Ben Armstrong: It became apparent that Joel would have to leave his job at some point if he ever wanted to reach his goals and potential. He gets some funding from sport Canada (as a carded athlete). After doing the math, he knew it would be difficult to survive without a steady income. He moved in with his brother and cut as many costs as possible. He also gets some income from the prize money in the tournaments. We will see how it goes but he will definitely not be flying first class and dining at expensive restaurants in his travels.
As far as training and travel goes, I feel that he is doing most of the necessary things to meet his goals. Maybe only some tweaking to get things just right. Some things (like experience) he will acquire only when he is in those situations – he is getting more of these valuable times now that he is traveling more.