Written by: Pierre ‘The Bear’ 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.***
On “Trouble Down Below”
This week’s column addresses various topics that have been presented over the last month in ONcourt. The article on “Trouble down below” and the issue of National Associations being directly responsible for the development of players to the pros brought quite a few comments, none as direct and insightful as the two from Casey Curtis, Milos Raonic’s former coach in his junior development stage. The fallout of this initiative is so compelling and disturbing that it is only a matter of time before changes are brought about. The most important aspect of the issue is that not only is it detrimental to the well being of the clubs, academies and coaches who develop these players but also it is not the healthiest environment for certain players. Should these players who deserve assistance from the national bodies have access to those resources or simply be pushed aside? When Rebecca Marino decides to leave the National Training Centre in Montreal when she is ranked in the top 40 in the world for personal reasons, should she be supported wherever and whenever she decides to come back to the sport? Of course, she is a great asset for Canadian tennis and Tennis Canada, I am sure, will support her comeback, even if it is not in Montreal at the National Centre. You can imagine the negative press if they would not. It would expose the shortfalls of their policies.
So if the Marino’s case deserves a different solution, then the National Training Centre policy is flawed. If it is flawed for Marino, it is flawed for all the youngsters in the Canadian system, who want to train in the environment of their choice with the coach of their choice. Tennis is not a team sport and does not require players to train with their teammates. The arguments, facts and worldwide results of National Training Centres are well documented and clearly show the pitfalls of such a concept. Meanwhile, until this policy is changed, which by the way was brought about by political and financial pressures, Tennis Canada which is filled with great individuals doing great work, will not receive the support they wish for so much. They will divide rather than unite the country and the human resources it needs for future growth. That in itself is proof enough that this is not the way to proceed. By the way, I am persistent on this issue because it affects the overall well being of the sport, the coaches, but mostly the majority of players in this country.
I am sorry, but if this is the cost, to develop a junior Wimbledon Champion, I don’t agree, find a different way. Our society has values, which do not support the development of a few at the expenses of the masses. Let’s promote teamwork, positive cooperation, growth and then tennis will accomplish what it should in this country.
On “Big Boys Coming To Town”
Damien Cox’s Toronto Star article on Canada’s upcoming event was interesting, except I wonder if anyone knows who the second highest Canadian eligible player is. There is a young 24-year-old player born in Ottawa who is eligible for our Davis Cup team. Jesse Levine is presently ranked 69 on the South African Airways ATP ranking and the Boca Raton resident is eligible to play for Canada. In fact a few years back there was quite a push to get him to play for Canada. With Pospisil at 115, Dancevic 134 and Polansky 150 being the options to support Raonic against the Spaniards, is Levine becoming more of an option?
The reality is that whoever the #2 Canadian player will be against Spain, we will be fortunate to secure a single win, but that might be all we need. Canada’s need for a strong option at #2 to continue their World Group appearances does make the Levine option one worth considering for the future. By the way, Levine was not developed at the National Training Centre in Canada or the US. He spent two years at Bollettieri and he has a Spanish coach.
On “OTA gets it Right”
The article on the creation of a new fall circuit in Ontario lauded the effort to create a new competitive period for players in Ontario. The results are in: last year approximately 50 players played the Thanksgiving event, the ACE Super Series. This year there are over 150 entries for the same events.