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.***
Two more weeks of junior nationals, the Under 18 at ORC and the Under 16 at Carrefour in Laval, was just enough to make me want to go back home and start the new year with loftier goals, better determination, better preparation and simply ready to continue contributing to the development of excellence in kids through tennis.
The Good: Nationals are the BEST
1) As a player and coach, I always put a lot of emphasis on performing at the Nationals. Being a National Champion is something that stays with you all your life. It does not matter who played or who did not play, who was injured, who showed up or who was the favorite. When you become a National Champion, you have accomplished success within your peers and you sit on top of the heap forever. It is something objective – you are the National Champion, there is no subjectivity about it. You have won in the most stressfull situation against your peers. So, to all the National Champions in singles and doubles, congratulations! For the rest of your life you are a Canadian Champion.
2) You can read about the national champions on the Tennis Canada web site, but there is one which I would like to point out, because I feel he represents all that is good about tennis. Hugo Di Feo, the 16 year old from Quebec who trains at the National Center in Montreal. Over two weeks he won four national titles winning 18 matches, losing none, winning 36 sets and losing 2. First, he won the U 18 singles and doubles [with Sam Monette] crown in Mississauga before showing up for the Under 16 competition in Laval. After his win in the U 18 he could have been forgiven for pulling out of the 16’s but like a true champion he not only won the singles crown, but when obliged to play doubles he teamed up with Andres Olave from Ontario, the only player in the draw without a partner, to win the doubles crown as well. His professionalism, his attitude, his behavior, his game is such that he could become a very special player. Probably the only question mark will be his size and how he adapts to the bigger game of the pros. Hugo, thank you for being such a good role model for all your peers, you are a champion.
3) Ontario Racquet Club and Le Club Carrefour in Laval were first rate venues run by very efficient staff and volunteers. With Mont Tremblant for the U 12 and U 14, Canadian players were provided with the best facilities available.
4) The final day of the Under 18 competition took place at the Rexall Tennis Center at York University. Players and guest were treated as if they were part of the Rogers Cup. Tennis Canada went out of their way to make the experience special. Players had their own lockers in the players locker room with their names on it, they were treated to a special gathering with Grand Slam champions Jim Courrier and Michael Chang, and were treated as players. Great job Tennis Canada, the kids loved it and in case you did not notice, the name tags are gone… Great memories!
5) The seedings were much more representative of actual performance, so obviously, what was wrong with the U 14 seedings was the criteria used.
6) The overall quality of the players was evident in all events. Canadian tennis is making progress, a lot of it has to do with the coaching certification system and the Professional Tennis Association which makes new current information available to its members.
The Bad: Where are the Other Provinces? Part 2
Number of players by provinces in the quarter finals of National Junior Championships
1) The above confirms what we pointed out in the last “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly” article.
a) What is happening in Quebec?
b) BC, no longer in the USTA, will have even less opportunities.
c) The rest of Canada must have infrastructures that can develop players of national calibers at least up to U 12.
2) I repeat that it’s obvious that they are many flaws in the overall development national structure that create a situation that tennis, unlike hockey, cannot produce players from other provinces but the top three.
3) The need of four court year round community centers all over the country is required for the implementation of recruiting strategies to the sport through progressive tennis and the development of regional competitive structures to service these new developing players. Then tennis will become what it should be in this country.
4) By the way, the progressive tennis ads by Tennis Canada during the tennis broadcasts are simply outstanding. I know I am giving a lot of compliments to Tennis Canada but next year I want a tournament pass with meals. [In case you are not sure, I am kidding about the meals… I don’t need any.]
5) Parents really need to understand the value and benefits of this great sport. Some parents are great, others do not realize they are their kids’ worst enemies. Tennis Canada should create a parent manual for developing players.
1) The parent which told me that as a provincial coach I was guilty of ”Abuse of Power” for reporting an infraction to the OTA where boys visited girls in their room contrary to Provincial Team policies.
2) The poor parent who came off the highway on to the service road at 120km per hour and got a ticket of over $600. That is what happens if you don’t speak French and your friendly cop does not speak English.
Back to the drawing board.