Written by: Ben Armstrong
***Ben Armstrong is the coach of Joel Dembe who has recently become the #1 ranked Canadian in the ITF Men’s Wheelchair tennis singles ranking. Armstrong, 2006 Tennis Canada Coach of the Year is the Tennis Director at Toronto Tennis City for the ACE Tennis program. Together, Ben and Joel set the goal to be #1. Should you have any questions, please contact Ben at firstname.lastname@example.org***
World ranked number 33, Joel Dembe successfully defended his singles and doubles National crown recently at the 2012 Birmingham Wheelchair Nationals held at the Sani Sport Tennis Club in Brossard, Que. Joel had a tough match against his friend and doubles partner and ended up defeating Philippe Bedard (world #51) in a 3 set match 6-7, 6-3, 6-4. They teamed up to win the doubles in a very brief match winning 6-1, 6-0, dominating their opponents Eric Gilbert and Jean-Francois Sylvestre. Joel also received the Tennis Canada Wheelchair Athlete of The Year award this weekend.
Taking in the weekend’s events was the tournament’s sponsor, Betty Birmigham. Betty, was there each day from the first match until the last cheering on the athletes. All of the players really appreciate her generosity and acknowledge her contributions to wheelchair tennis in Canada. Each athlete gave her a warm hug after the award presentations.
In September at the Paralympics, Joel faced stiff competition facing off against top British player David Philippson, losing in straight sets in front of a pro-British crowd. In doubles, Joel again faced off against Britain’s top ranked team, in front of a crowd of 5000 people and again being defeated in straight sets. Joel had a tremendous experience representing Canada, achieved a lifetime goal of becoming a Paralympian, and came away with huge motivation to continue his improvement in the game. Both Joel and Philippe recently reached their career best rankings (32 and 51 respectively) and are playing some of their best tennis.
Leading up to the games Joel took a leave of absence with TD Canada Trust in order to travel and train. Immediately after the Paralympics Joel took a job with MV-1 Canada as the spokesperson and community relations manager. MV-1 is the first factory-built wheelchair accessible vehicle, allowing for those with physical disabilities to easily get in and out of the car. Joel is enjoying his new role at MV-1. This position is very valuable to Joel as it will allow him some flexibility in order to travel, train, and reach his future tennis goals.
Next up: preparing for next year’s season, along with one final tournament in December in Mexico. In February 2013 Joel will lead Canada in World Team Cup Qualifications in South America. He will be working hard on improving his agility, serves, and return of serve this off-season with ACE.