Pierre ‘The Bear’ Lamarche: “Back on the road….again”

This time my assignment was to introduce two of our young ACE players Raheel Manji (16 years old and Under 16 National Champ) and Sam Philp (17 years old and #3 at recent U18 Ontario Championships) to the experience of the entry level Pro Circuit at the Saskatoon Futures.

Written by: Pierre ‘The Bear’ Lamarche

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***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.***

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One of the great benefits associated with competitive tennis is the travel. Yes it is tiresome when you do it all the time, but as a coach it’s a little different because unless your player is on the pro tour or ITF circuit, it is a sporadic change to your daily home routine.
This time my assignment was to introduce two of our young ACE players Raheel Manji (16 years old and Under 16 National Champ) and Sam Philp (17 years old and #3 at recent U18 Ontario Championships) to the experience of the entry level Pro Circuit at the Saskatoon Futures.

I looked forward to the change, as the last two months since I came back from my surfing adventure in the Dominican have been nothing short of crazy. Year end for the kids, new clubs, new academies, new staff, new circuits, summer and fall planning, plus personal logistics. When I took my seat in the plane, I was able to enjoy two activities which had eluded me in the last two months: reading the paper and a mid day nap, not to mention no phone, text or e-mail.

I was looking forward to this experience because Raheel and Sam are two great role models in the way they go about their development; as well as two great kids. Do not get me wrong they “ain’t” perfect, Sam “the contrary man” is stubborn while Raheel is so intense and thinking about his game all the time that I knew the experience would be beneficial to all of us. My objectives were quite simple: 1. Providing insight on how to integrate the entry level tour, where men and not kids are playing 2 . To see if I could develop a relationship with Sam so that he becomes more open to coaching suggestions and develops a more open way of communicating 3. To show Raheel how to channel his intensity in a way which makes it possible for him to manage his excitement in stressful match situations.

So fast forward, on my way back to Toronto here is the “compte rendu”. From a performance standpoint the results were predictable: Sam won his first qualifying match against a local player and lost a second round match against a good Canadian player who was injured and which he could have beaten. He lost the second set 7-5 making over 25 unforced errors, including three on critical points at the end of the second set with poor decisions (going for too much). As a result he lost a match where his opponent only made two winners in the set, but his 25 unforced errors far outdid his own five winners. This is the difference between playing junior events, including ITF’s with the boys versus entry level pro events with the men.

Raheel received a wild card from Tennis Canada based on his performance in the U16 Nationals this past winter. Last week he won two matches and qualified in Kelowna before losing in the first round. In that match he was up 5-2 in the second against another junior wild card, Alexander Day. After losing the first, the excitement of getting his first ATP point at the age of 16 got him carried away. This time he played a man and his best intentions and preparation gave way to his lack of experience in managing an opponent who simply imposed his will and game style on him.

From a performance standpoint our team gets a 2 out of 10, but from an objective viewpoint (see above) we probably managed a 6 to 7 out of ten. The conclusions I came away with were 1. If you want to learn the game get out of juniors at 16 and play the men, no one gives you anything 2. My boys would benefit from playing 12-16 of these events when they are around 16. 3. In Canada we must find a strategy that allows these boys the opportunity to play these events at an affordable cost, the cost to ACE for my five days of coaching was over $1750 without a salary, by grouping them together (3 or 4) within driving distance 4. If we can understand the maximization of resources principle, we will make better decisions for the players and we will produce more entry level players (Junior, transition and College players) who will help us have a greater presence on the world scene while developing the domestic infrastructure.

Meanwhile, I loved my experience being with the boys and seeing so many Canadians giving it a shot. It was also interesting to visit a club where I played a pro event in 1974. The mosquitoes still rule in Saskatoon.

Next Gen Tennis League promises exciting matches

The Next Gen Tennis League again saw some great tennis last weekend at The Credit Valley Tennis Club and Burlington Tennis Club. This promises that Saturday the 24th will feature some exciting matches and very competitive tennis. All three matches will be played on Saturday October 24th, with Team Byte Network Security facing Team Hydrogen at noon (Burlington Tennis Club).

ITF Men’s 85 World Team Championships Renamed the Lorne Main Cup

Toronto, October 13, 2020 – The International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced on Tuesday that, as of 2021, the Men’s 85 World Team Championships will be renamed the Lorne Main Cup after the late Canadian. Lorne Main was selected for the honour following a unanimous vote by the ITF Seniors Committee, and approval from the ITF Board of Directors, after his name was put forward by Tennis Canada as part of the nomination process.
 

A New Reality By Nicolas Pereira

This past week in the World Team Tennis ‘Bubble” I have seen the efforts to keep everyone safe while carrying on a team competition with around 60/70 players and coaches onsite. Counting organizers, officials, media, and support personnel are around 150 people trying hard to make this happen. I am very impressed by how the strict protocol has been handled and how everyone is invested in making this event a success, but The Open is a completely different scale of details.

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Filip Peliwo, Davis Cup #4: “Canadian rule”

I have been a hitting partner for the Canadian Davis Cup team in the past but I have absolutely no idea at the moment if I’ll have a specific role to play in the semifinals against Serbia in Belgrade. I would expect the team would probably try to keep the same routine and I’ll probably be going as a hitting partner again but I’m not 100 per cent sure what’s happening with that as I haven’t heard from the team yet. We’ll see.

Mike Meaney: Resiliency is The Order For The Day

This life-changing event will test our mental fortitude, you’ve trained for this most of your Tennis lives. As coaches it’s our job to instil a strong belief in an athlete’s mind that they are capable of overcoming big deficits in matches. Well, this deficit may last for months. But, as other top Canadian coaches have expressed in their letters to you all, it’s time to keep the fitness and mental base by working out at home, in your yard and to practice the visualization skills taught to you by your coaches or sports psychologists. These qualities will be tested on a big scale once you return to action and it will be obvious who did the work while fighting this deficit off. Don’t get left behind!