***Andre Lemaire is the owner of Mont Tremblant Tennis which boasts 25 great clay courts and makes it as such the biggest claycourt venue in Canada. The 59-year-old Lemaire is a gregarious outgoing individual known for his quick wit, biting comments and for being someone who speaks his mind. The St-Jean Sur Richelieu native has been the coach of many national junior champions, including Sebastien Leblanc and Sebastien Lareau who won both the French Open and Wimbledon junior doubles titles. Of course Lareau went on to become one of the world’s top player winning Gold at the Sydney Olympics with Daniel Nestor. We caught up with Lemaire as his club was hosting the U 12 and U 14 Canadian Championships this past summer.***
ONcourt: Andre, you have been in tennis for almost 50 years, what are your reflections on the sport?
Andre Lemaire: The first thing I came to realize is that tennis is an image of life. When you are at peace with yourself, than you will be at peace on the court. The ego part plays such a big part in tennis, and it does not matter how good you are, even if you are the best, you must be at peace with yourself. I always felt that about Ivan Lendl. Being at peace translates itself in finding the right coaching relationship, rather than changing all the time and looking inside and taking responsibilities rather than blaming the outside, the environment.
And then being Andre Lemaire, “tennis helped me be a better person, since I was perfect to start off with, you can imagine me now”.
ONcourt: What has been the key to your business success?
Andre Lemaire: Over the years I had no friends, only customers, but now all my customers are my friends. People know if you truly care about them.
ONcourt: What is your take on the evolution of tennis in Quebec?
Andre Lemaire: I don’t think that the situation is that good. Before you had three Academies where all the good players were regrouped. Now you have many centers but not the same type of quality. For player development there is not enough free courts, kids missed open play, they are supervised too much and do not develop their independence as much.
ONcourt: What would you do to improve tennis in Canada?
Andre Lemaire: The greatest aspect when I was involved with my Academy and these top juniors and Open players was the cooperation amongst all parts of tennis development. The Academy, the Provincial association, Tennis Canada and the national coaches were all on the same side. This created great energy which has not been duplicated recently.
ONcourt: What are your best memories from your tennis life?
Andre Lemaire: Besides my victory over you [which of course only happened in his dreams] I remember being in the locker room in Wimbledon with Leblanc and Lareau. Two years before we had set the Wimbledon Championship as our goal and they were getting ready to play the finals. The lockers with the player’s names, the old attendants in their white jackets, the Wimbledon towels, it was a dream come true.