BY SCOTT LANGDON via THE OTA
It was a coach who re-lit the competitive fire in Toronto’s Sharon Fichman, prompting her return to the WTA tour in 2018 following a two-year hiatus. The coach’s name was Sharon Fichman.
Fichman, who childhood friend and training partner Laura Borza calls “something of a prodigy with incredible results” as a junior tennis player, stepped away from professional tennis in 2016. Fichman was dealing with injuries, mental fatigue and a growing interest in activities outside the world of professional tennis. One of those interests was broadcasting and another was coaching.
“I was always motivated by the desire to win as a competitive tennis player,” Fichman said during a recent telephone interview from a temporary residence in St. Petersburg, Fl where she is recovering from a shoulder injury sustained on the Australian leg of the WTA tour. “But coaching provided the opportunity to enjoy tennis in a different way. It gave me a new perspective, helped me see there is more to life than tennis and that there is joy in the process, not just the outcome.”
Fichman’s fiancée, Dylan Moscovitch, a decorated pairs figure skater who counts a 2014 Olympic silver medal among his national and international successes, also played a key role in her decision to return to professional tennis.
She refers to Moscovitch as a “pathological optimist” and says: “He helped me realize that sport is more than wins and losses. He pointed out there is joy in the process and there are worse things than hitting tennis balls for a living.”
“Dylan encouraged Sharon to finish her career on her own terms with playing in the Olympic Games as a goal. I know she loved coaching, but deep down I think she missed competitive tennis,” said Borza, a tennis professional at the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club. She was also Fichman’s coach earlier this year at the Australian Open and other tournaments.
The Games of the XXXII Olympiad, originally planned for 2020, have been re-scheduled to this summer as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. They are slated to run from July 23 to August 8. The Olympic tennis tournament will be July 24 to August 1 at the Ariake Tennis Park, Tokyo.
The qualification process for the Tokyo Games is based on ATP rankings for men and WTA rankings for women. There will be 56 direct qualifications per gender in singles, 64 in doubles and 32 for mixed doubles. Players can accumulate ATP or WTA points until June 7 this year. The International Tennis Federation will confirm the names of qualified players to national Olympic committees by June 10 and the committees will confirm these choices by June 17, according to www.tokyo2020.org.
Fichman was ranked 54 on the WTA Tour at the time of writing. She and partner Giuliana Olmos of Mexico reached the quarter finals of the Australian Open women’s doubles competition earlier this year.
Fichman and partner Maria Sanchez of the USA hold up the ASB doubles trophy in New Zealand, January 2014.
Simon Bartram, Tennis Director, Toronto Lawn Tennis Club, was involved in helping Fichman attain the necessary coaching credentials that led to a high-performance coaching position at Toronto’s Granite Club. He also played a training role in Fichman’s return to the WTA doubles tour months later.
“I wasn’t surprised when Sharon decided to return to professional tennis. I was happy for her. She was young when she stopped, primarily due to injuries, and I knew she had the ability,” he said. “It was also clear she had the determination when she played ITF tournaments in places such as India to get her ranking back up. That is tough sledding,” he said.
As a young tennis player, Fichman won “pretty much all there is to win.”
As a young tennis player, Fichman won “pretty much all there is to win”, according to Borza. She was national under 18 Champion at the age of 13, played in her first Federation Cup match at 14 and won two Junior Grand Slam doubles titles among other accomplishments. Fichman is still focusing on wins as a professional player, but she says her attitude has changed.
“I’m seeing life these days as infinite opportunities for patience and determination. I have learned to take a deep breath and stick to the process on court. If you build the person, the athlete will follow,” she said.
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