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.***
My alter ego, “The Bear” and I had a discussion this past Saturday. I was on the court most of the weekend working with a wonderful bunch of kids getting ready for the Junior Nationals on clay. Because of a back injury, due to my recent commitment to getting into shape [twenty more years is a long time being fat], I have hardly been on the court teaching. Working with our players is what I love doing the most in my business life because it is so real, invigorating and satisfying. When I got home on Saturday night after the camp looking at my e-mails, I realised that the Bear’s last rant was not well received by a TC fan. It did not surprise me, but the tone of the response and personal slant towards Pierre Lamarche affected me, as I am a pretty sensitive guy. So, the Bear and I sat down, and his first response was: “I am only reporting Canadian tennis history and I am only telling the truth. Why would anybody not want to know the truth and learn from it? Everything I said was correct, including the partnership between Tennis Canada and the public sector”. The Bear reminded me that Greg Rusedski and his family had actually reimbursed Tennis Canada the money provided when he defected to England.” I then explained to the Bear that the issue is not the truth, but his abrasive personality, and that although his ideas were good they would never see the light of day due to people’s reaction to his personality.
I then followed up with a Bear-like response and said: “Bear, who gives a damn, nobody wants to know your old stories. Canada is basking in the light of success for the first time in years. You are only hurting yourself and me.” The Bear was flabbergasted, he always thought of himself as the “Don Quixote of Canadian tennis” which he might be, but did not realise that idealists and dreamers are quite often somewhat imbalanced and are not always well received. The Bear is pugnacious, so I was a little worried. He looked me in the eyes and said; “Pierre, no más, no más. You know me well: the only thing I care about is the Canadian game, its players and their coaches. So if you believe that what I am doing does not help, then I’ll let it be, but tell me what to do.” My response was that his frankness and caring was evident, but that his comments on Tennis Canada were becoming aggravating. I also added that he was wasting valuable energy that could be redirected to better use, and that there comes a time when you must let go and just move on.
I then talked with him about the many opportunities we have to develop the game here in the Toronto and in the Southwest Ontario region; that unfortunately, I am not getting any younger, and that I really needed him to help me create a synergy which would make it possible to achieve our dreams here in this region. “Bear, we are so lucky: we have two great facilities, lots of good kids, great human resources, a solid company and people that love and support us. Let’s use our assets to help everyone we can and leave Tennis Canada alone. Bear, I understand you might not think they are doing it as well as they can, but they are getting results, they have raised money, reduced the debt and they will find the way. We have more important things to do, let’s use our energy and resources to make it better for everyone we touch”.
The Bear looked at me and said: “I agree with you. I thought I was actually down that road until I wrote that last article. I just reacted. But from now on you can count on me, partner. I knew the time would come for me to let go, but God it took a long time. Ok what do we do next?”
“Bear, let’s turn the video of the Duran [Hands of Stone] vs Leonard second fight and really understand what “no más, no más” means.”
I love the Bear. I thought of sending him to pasture, but he is too much fun, he keeps me honest and young. Now I am just going to show the old Bear new tricks, which is not easy. But he cares so much that he is willing to learn.