***Joel Dembe, Canada’s #1 singles and doubles wheelchair tennis player, recently played for Canada in the BNP Paribas 2012 World Team Cup in Seoul, Korea, from May 21-27. Canada’s team lost narrowly to South Africa, who qualified for World Group 1. Canada finished 7th place with some decisive victories along the way.***
ONcourt: How do you feel the tournament went?
Joel Dembe: I felt it went pretty good considering it was the first time I participated in the World Team Cup as the anchor of the Men’s team. I was happy to have some solid wins over Greece and Nigeria, but was disappointed to lose against South Africa. I was really close to beating some higher ranked players and overall, I’m encouraged by the progress I made during the event.
ONcourt: What were the key things that you learned?
Joel Dembe: I learned that when I raise my intensity level, my game tends to elevate as well. I need to find a way to remain intense and focused throughout an entire match and not ease off from that. Also, every shot needs to be hit with authority and intention, or my opponents will pounce.
ONcourt: What was the tournament atmosphere like there?
Joel Dembe: The atmosphere was great! The entire Canadian team got along really well. Being in the first World Team Cup to be held in Asia was also really neat.
ONcourt: How did you like the on-court coaching?
Joel Dembe: I really liked it because Ben Armstrong (my personal coach) was there with me. I felt like he improved my play on court and gave me way more direction. I think it was a good experience for him as well. We both learned a lot.
ONcourt: You have recently been officially named to the Paralympic Team. How does it feel?
Joel Dembe: Feels great! I made the decision to train full-time to get to London back in November 2010. Knowing how hard I’ve worked since then, it is a huge weight off my shoulders. Not many people in Canada have the opportunity to do this kind of thing, so it’s definitely special.
ONcourt: How did you like Korea?
Joel Dembe: I loved it! Seoul has a great blend of the traditional and modern, and I got a chance to see a lot of the city. I ate a ton of Korean food like kimchi and kimbop. I loved the food. Koreans also love baseball, which is awesome.
ONcourt: What are you going to do leading to the Paralympics?
Joel Dembe: Practice, practice, practice. I know what I need to work on and now I just have to spend a great deal of time on and off court to improve my game. I’ll be playing in the French Open in a few weeks, and playing several events in North America in July.