Written by: Casey Curtis
***Casey Curtis is a High Performance Coach and the Coach of Milos Raonic, the highest ranked man in the history of Canadian tennis, from the age 8-17. Today, Casey shares with the readers of ONcourt his views on the National Training Centre and the cooperation between Tennis Canada and the private sector.***
Bill wrote on 2012/08/04 at 09:04pm:
Hi Casey, great insight. So at the moment you feel that the system in place does not have a partnership between Tennis Canada and the private sector? Bill
Sorry for the delay in answering your question and thank you for your comment.
I hope you won’t mind, but rather than answer your question with my opinion, I will do my best to explain what is currently going on in Ontario and let you draw your own conclusions as to whether there is a partnership. I hope I can present a fair picture of things, but if not, I welcome TC Fan or any other individual to correct any mistakes I may make.
Tennis Canada currently runs a National Centre in Montreal, where they encourage our top junior prospects to come to live and train in an academy setting with mostly foreign coaches. I have no problem with the foreign coaches, except I feel that players should be training one-on-one with a coach and less in the academy setting, and I don’t feel we have enough high level players at the Centre. Therefore, if we have a true Pro Prospect, and I am not talking about a top junior, but a legitimate top 50 male or female professional – I feel they would be better off being in Spain or Florida where you will find many top professionals to train with, along with your Private Coach. This is basically what Milos has been doing for the past two years in Spain.
Regardless, these players pay very little or perhaps nothing to be a part of this Centre – but I believe there is some form of a fee being paid.
Tennis Canada also operates, in conjunction with Provincial Tennis Organizations, National Centres in Toronto and Vancouver, where again they encourage the very best junior prospects in the province to train with the coaches, who are chosen for their high level of coaching ability (which to me appears to be based on their past playing ability). These centres offer regroupings of players, which I believe are monthly or semi-weekly, along with Private, Semi-Private and clinics on weekdays also being offered.
These lessons are all heavily subsidized to the point where private lessons are at a rate which is between 20-25% of the industry rate. In other words, a player can receive instruction at one of these centres for 1/5 of what it might cost them at a Private Club or Academy.
So what we really have here is direct competition between the Private Sector and Tennis Canada’s National Centres. Every single High Performance Coach whom I have discussed this with agrees with this conclusion, even my buddies that are coaching at the National Centres. So I am not sure how anyone could see this as a partnership between Tennis Canada and the Private Sector, but I am certainly willing to listen to every opinion.
High Performance Programs require High Performance players to be successful. If Tennis Canada is going to take the best players out of the Private Sector to train at these National Centres, then they are definitely having a very negative effect on the overall health of the Competitive Side of the Private Sector. And they are mostly able to do this because they are offering heavily subsidized coaching.
For myself I would say this to Tennis Canada:
If you want to take away my best athletes – it is essential to the athletes and to me, that the program you are offering gives them a better chance to realize their goals than my program does, and not just a cheaper alternative, that doesn’t.
I would like to see Tennis Canada subsidize the Private Sector through the coaches and leave the top players training with their respective coaches. Arrange a high level circuit for the top 8 players in each division that sees these players competing against each other on weekends, rather than playing 3 or 4 poor matches to get to one competitive match. I know that Pierre had set up a detailed competitive structure that seemed to make sense – so that would be another option. But in general, I would like to see Tennis Canada financially assist the Private Sector and allow them to do what they do best – produce players.