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.***
Davis Cup is the BEST. There is no feeling like it and now for the first time Canada is in the last eight. Not only is Canada in the last eight, but we have a legitimate chance to make it to the top four. If ever you make it to the last four then the thinking is anything can happen. The reason anything can happen is because we have the big gun “Milos Raonic”. In Canada we have never had a player like Milos on our team. Past Canadian success has been accomplished through a professional approach to the team competition. The Davis Cup has always been a priority of Tennis Canada. The Canadian team has always relied on great leadership, solid competitive players willing to play for their country, solid doubles teams and a great support staff. Tennis Canada has been unwavering in their support of our national team. So, first and foremost, thank you Tennis Canada, for your ongoing support of our Davis Cup team.
Milos Raonic is the real thing, he can beat a team almost single handedly. At home on his surface, with the crowd support he is equal to anyone including the best in the game. Just remember that after this weekend, Switzerland and Federer are out, Nadal and Spain are out, Murray was never in so it leaves only Djokovic. Milos’ game is one which is very difficult for lower ranked players to handle. His much improved emotional approach to his matches makes it difficult to upset him. So now that we play Italy at home, on a similar court for sure, with a new addition in Jesse Levine from Ottawa, #88 ATP, with Pospisil coming back from mono, with Frank seeing how he can play when not injured, with Daniel being Dan, just one of the best doubles player ever, you have to believe it can happen. Marty Laurendeau has always been a very solid captain, it was obvious that he would be even when he was a player. He knows this is Canada’s opportunity. He will make sure everything is done to beat Italy and he will be well supported by everyone on the Tennis Canada team.
Now, back to this past weekend. Daniel called it on Thursday, “we have two points with Milos”. Laurendeau and everyone else knew it would probably come down to the doubles and he prepared Pospisil and Nestor well by having Jesse Levine and Adil Shamasdin [top 100 ATP doubles] simulate world #3 Granollers and Lopez. He planned it to be even at the worst after Friday, to win the doubles on Saturday and have Milos close it out on Sunday. Milos, after a first set hiccup, routed his opponent. This shifted the pressure of “a must win” to Spain and allowed Frank Dancevic to go for it. In one of the greatest performances I have ever witnessed, Frank steamrolled #34 ATP Granollers in three unbelievable sets. This guaranteed the Canadian win. For those of us that know Frankie and his family, we were all so happy for him to get his time on the big stage. Frank and his family are a typical Canadian tennis family. The family has always been there, his sister was a multiple Canadian Junior Champion, Mom, Dad and the sisters are part of the Ontario and Canadian tennis landscape. Thank you Frankie, you made it possible.
The doubles on Saturday was an interesting affair. Granollers had to be hurting from his previous night beating, Pospisil, last year’s hero against Israel, was coming back from mono, and the elder statesman Daniel had a rough start to this year’s ATP schedule [although still #4 ATP in doubles]. For me the most interesting fact was to see Daniel’s energetic outward display [it is not him] showing how important this was for him and Canada. Nestor and Pospisil actually dominated for three sets and then after a turnaround in the fourth this match got away. So it was up to Milos, and it did not matter who Spain would play from their team, it was over.
We could talk about Spain’s top four players not being there, but it is irrelevant. In the books it will forever say Canada 3-Spain 2 and that is all that matters. Next, bring it on. Canada will be ready.
Michael Downey, CEO of Tennis Canada and Hatem McDadi, head of tennis development must be recognised for their ongoing support of the team and our transition players [players starting on the pro tour]. Louis Borfiga and Guillaume Marx, Montreal’s French connection have been excellent in finding the right people to work with our top players. Marty is a player’s coach and is well liked by all of us who have had the chance to work with him. His players have shown true Canadian grit, and now besides having the nuclear missile [Raonic] they have one more world class weapon [Levine]. I do not know the support staff but in the Canadian tradition, I am sure it is excellent.
We might not always have the opportunities we have in 2013, but it’s there for the taking. It’s a great time to be associated with Canadian tennis. I watched the tie with my partner Doug Burke, who was a long time player and captain for Jamaica, someone with a very strong Canadian background and who is a former Canadian Junior Champion, who I coached on the ATP tour, who is a good friend of Marty and who worked with Daniel Nestor during that memorable tie with Sweden. We sent our congratulations to Marty who answered:
“Bear, Thanks buddy, this was a chance of a lifetime and the boys took it. I’m proud of them. This was for all the players and captains and staff who for all those years kept at it believing our day would come. This is too much fun, gotta keep going. Take care,
Thank you, Marty.