Ben Armstrong: “Joel and I Have Good Chemistry”


***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***


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.

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.