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.
His ONcourt series of editorials specifically provides thoughts for reflection on how to make Canada a tennis superpower.***
“See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil”… In the western world this phrase is often used to refer to those who deal with impropriety by looking the other way, refuse to acknowledge it or feign ignorance.
In my last editorial “Are All Canadian Junior Players playing on a level field?” I finished the article by saying: “I am sure the people responsible did not create this situation knowingly but their arrogance in believing that they know what is right and their lack of openness in dealing with different viewpoints has led them to this situation which reeks of discrimination and unfairness. The future of children is at stake.”
I did receive an informal response from Tennis Canada. A computer glitch in the tournament’s committee system created the problem. I am sure this is legitimate but why did Tennis Canada not explain the problem to those who contacted them? We provided the article to Tennis Canada ahead of publication so as to receive their feedback. The glitch explains some discrepancies in the “Order of Merit” but not all of them. It would have been easy to explain the rationale and manage the issue properly.
We did get many comments supporting our view, none as outspoken as the ones posted on ONcourt. Parents, players, coaches and friends of tennis are asking “What can be done?” Many options are available but these are the ones which I believe can affect change in the demeanor of Tennis Canada:
- Be heard, speak up. Many are afraid to speak because of the consequences they perceive will befall their children as players or their career as coaches. Write in your comments on ONcourt whether you agree or not. Believe me when I say that the compounding of questions and dissatisfaction will take its toll on Tennis Canada’s deaf ears. The same process occurred in late 1980 where the newspaper version of ONcourt finally forced the Chair of Tennis Canada to affect major changes in the operation of tennis development in this country.
- Write directly to the president of your Provincial association and its Board members. The paid staff, of the Provincial associations, is handcuffed and is incapable of affecting any meaning full change. The Provincial associations are the stakeholders of Tennis Canada and could demand changes through their committee known as “The Council of the Provinces”. The problem here is that “The Council of the Provinces” was created by Tennis Canada staff in the 1990’s to placate the demands of the provinces. The system could be meaningful, but the agendas and the needs are so varied between the various provinces, that consensus based on knowledgeable professional recommendations is almost impossible. This is especially difficult since as in all ways of Canadian life, Quebec [through the Open] gets to negotiate their own agenda ahead of the formal process of “The Council of the Provinces”. Satisfying their own agenda and demands means their alignment with Tennis Canada views.
- Finally, try getting the addresses and names of the Board Members of Tennis Canada and voice your issues and views directly to them. I am sure that Board Meetings of Tennis Canada are filled with the positive achievements of the development department [look at Milos!!!, give me a break, if it’s true where are the other Milos’?] rather than the concerns of those affected by discriminatory or unjust policies.
Tennis Canada is one of Canada’s great sport organizations, largely due to its ownership of The Rogers events. It should strive to make tennis a major sport in the country by being open-minded and looking at alternative viewpoints without being defensive. What we all want is to make tennis bigger in Canada and to provide more opportunities for children to learn and develop through the sport. Tennis Canada is the only vehicle capable of leading this development of the sport; it needs to assume a more open pro-active approach which deals with issues and suggestions in a more professional manner. It needs to show leadership through pro-active dialogue.