bear

The Bear, Davis Cup #9: “The Dream is Still Alive” Part One

It’s a beautiful fall morning in gloomy Belgrade. Euphoria is in the air. We have a real opportunity on the last day of the Davis Cup semi-finals against the heavy favorite team from Serbia led by the #1 player in the world Novak Djokovic. Today Canada will have a chance to win the tie and ascend to the Finals until the last point is played. What an opportunity to live this improbable experience. What a full day it will be. I have been fortunate to witness many exceptional tennis experiences in my life but this one will rate as one of the greatest ones ever. Can you imagine, we are leading 2-1 on Sunday morning after unbelievable twin wins of 10-8 in the fifth set?

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Sunday 11am, September 15, 2013

Canada 2, Serbia 1

The Dream is Alive

It’s a beautiful fall morning in gloomy Belgrade. Euphoria is in the air. We have a real opportunity on the last day of the Davis Cup semi-finals against the heavy favorite team from Serbia led by the #1 player in the world Novak Djokovic. Today Canada will have a chance to win the tie and ascend to the Finals until the last point is played. What an opportunity to live this improbable experience. What a full day it will be. I have been fortunate to witness many exceptional tennis experiences in my life but this one will rate as one of the greatest ones ever. Can you imagine, we are leading 2-1 on Sunday morning after unbelievable twin wins of 10-8 in the fifth set?

The first match between Vasek and Novak was predictable. Playing the first match ever in Davis Cup semi-final history for your country, in the opponent’s den versus the #1 player in the world would be a daunting experience for a seasoned veteran player. Vasek, the 23 year old on the heels of his ascension in the world’s top 40 started strong, but once he let Novak get ahead, you could sense his indecision on how to play Novak on the red clay. That indecision turned into frustration and Vasek was pushed aside in three relatively quick sets.

Many positives for Vasek from this match: Vasek who is the only player to have to play three matches in this tie, had the opportunity to deal with the pressure he will face in his next two matches, had the opportunity to upgrade his game and certainly did not waste the energy he will require in a possible deciding fifth match against Tipsarevic.

Milos’s match was something else. First we saw a much improved Milos, feeling more and more comfortable with his more aggressive and creative game style since his change to Ivan Ljubicic [who was not present at the tie] as his coach. He played courageously and specifically served and volleyed on important second serves on some very prominent points. The closeness of this match can only be explained by the extraordinary effort of the mercurial Tipsarevic who you can feel would sacrifice it all for his country. The final break of the match was the result of Milos’s investment in a more progressive game style where he followed an approach to the net with a biting backhand slice.

Day 2 was in my mind the most notable match in the history of Canadian tennis. A win gave us a real chance in this tie. I happened to run into Daniel at breakfast where we had a short chat. Having spent a lot of time with Daniel in his early career, I mentioned how wonderful for him to have this opportunity after 20 years of commitment to his country. It was obvious that Daniel relished this opportunity and was ready for it. He played a superb match especially serving in the last set. Watching him vary his locations, spins and speeds reminded me of a great aging baseball pitcher capable to controlling the situation with his decision making rather than his shot making. Vasek gained in confidence as the match progressed and became a force once his percentage of first serves improved drastically. This was the perfect win to prepare him for today.

Finally, what I will remember after a lifetime of tennis, is the joy and smile on Daniel’s face when he hit the winning volley to close out the match. That smile was one of the most beautiful demonstrations of pure joy that I have seen from Daniel.

Now one point at a time, Go Canada!

PS: The cheering section for Canada is AMAZING. Thanks to all of them and thank you Michael [Downey] for having the foresight to bring them.

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.

ONcourt Interviews NGTL Co-Founder Yves Boulais

It does not matter that you get your rating playing locally or that you had spent an insidious amount of money playing the ITF junior tour tournaments. Your rating is your level of play (you get no bonus for playing more or playing far away). This allows us to break free of the ITF competitive structure potentially saving us time, money, and headache. We see this as a great opportunity to improve the logistic of our sport.

Brandon Burke (son of ACE President Doug Burke) Elected to WTA Board

As revealed in a recent news release issued by the WTA Tour – Brandon Burke has been elected to the WTA Board of Directors (to start officially in September). Oncourt got together with Brandon to delve a bit more into his background and to gain some insight into this wonderful appointment he has attained at such a young age.