View Full Version : Canuck tennis needs a star

Jun 3rd, 2003, 09:21 PM

Canuck tennis needs star

By GEORGE GROSS -- Toronto Sun

*A highly experienced coach once told me: "If you want to reach the stars, you have to know what a star is."

*So, Canadian tennis badly needs a Mike Weir or Annika Sorenstam to 'enlighten' our national tennis family.

*That, and only that, would help develop Canadian male and female players to the point where they end up being ranked among the top 20 players in the world.

*Bob Moffatt, president of Tennis Canada and a former member of Canada's national team, figures that a star's presence would propel Canadian tennis to the point of developing another Carling Bassett or Mike Belkin.

*Darling Carling, as the British media nicknamed the daughter of the late Johnny F. Bassett, was ranked 10th in the world at one point and one year reached the fourth round at Wimbledon.

*Belkin could, on any given day, beat any ranked player in the world.

*"We've had highly ranked players in addition to Carling and Mike," Moffatt said the other day. "Helen Kelesi, Andrew Sznajder, Bob Bedard, Daniel Nestor and Grant Connell are other names that come to mind.

*"But in order to create major interest among young people, we need a Mike Weir of tennis.

*"Sweden had a Bjorn Borg and thousands of youngsters wanted to follow in his shoes. The Czechs had Jaroslav Drobny, a former Wimbledon champion. Argentina boasted Guillermo Vilas, and so on. We need a star player."

*In other words, Moffatt advocates the development of greater depths in the men's and women's divisions, particularly players who are adept on all surfaces.

*"Most of our players are used to playing on hard, fast surfaces," Moffatt said. "The problem is that half the courts in the world are clay courts and it's a major difference to play on hard courts versus clay. Just ask Pete Sampras, who never won the French Open, which is played on red clay.

*"And you need good coaches. We have about a dozen highly qualified coaches to work with upcoming young players. However, we need more of them.

*"Also, we've had, and still have, some good players. Greg Rusedski, who made the U.S. Open final one year, was brought up on Canadian tennis and Daniel Nestor beat such top players as Stefan Edberg and Marcello Rios when they were ranked No. 1 in the world."

*Moffatt relies on Hatem McDadi, the director of player development for Tennis Canada, who has an interesting explanation for why Canada doesn't have a man or woman among them world's top 20 players.

*"I think the No. 1 problem is the culture of Canadian sports," McDadi said. "Tennis in Canada is not in the top five sports. Hockey is No. 1, followed by basketball, golf, curling and baseball. If we had a Grand Slam champion, it would get the people interested in tennis.

*"A champion alone is not enough, though. In France, for instance, tennis took off when Yannick Noah reached the top. But they also had the infrastructure, including training programs, club competitions, regional tournaments and so on."

*According to McDadi, among Canadian men, young Frank Dancevic has the potential of making it to the top 20 in the world. He's just out of the junior ranks, but has shown remarkable maturity. On the distaff side, it's Sharon Fishman, who is only 13 years old, but has won the Orange Bowl in Florida and is the Canadian national under-14 champion.

*"I would say we have about eight to 10 young promising girls," McDadi said. "Now it comes to the Canadian culture I was talking about. But if we have the coaching, the national team program and the rest of the infrastructure in place, the future will look good."

*Until then, all we can do is admire the Williams sisters and Lleyton Hewitt.

Jun 3rd, 2003, 09:37 PM
The bit about having "eight to ten promising girls",they've been saying that FOREVER! :rolleyes:

Jun 3rd, 2003, 11:24 PM
They already have a star in Maureen Drake :worship: I swear if she ever found a way to make top 20, she would be the most popular player to watch with her personality out there. Ditto w/Sonya Jeyaseelan

Jun 3rd, 2003, 11:31 PM
isn't nancy canadian??

Jun 3rd, 2003, 11:42 PM
isn't nancy canadian??

Yeah..and isn't she just a beacon of shining light for Tennis Canada :p

They are dreaming on the men's side about Dancevic..it ain't gonna happen.

As for the women..I do think that Fichman is the best shot..she appears to be very solid..but being solid in the juniors doesn't mean anything when it comes to the tour.

Jun 4th, 2003, 09:50 PM
I agree about Drake. She has loads of personality. I remember cracking up uncontrollably during an interview she did with Jill Hetherington. Drake was so silly poking at fun at life on the tour.

Fishman's Orange Bowl success is no guarantee for main tour success as we have all seen with previous Orange Bowl winners.

Jun 4th, 2003, 10:25 PM
Drake a star? She never was and she never will be as she is probably very close to retiring.

While I don't think there is anyone who could be a top 100 prospect in the next 3 to 4 years on the men's side, there is a young guy who could have bright future. His name is Philip Bester and, at 15, he already has a contract with the IMG. He was in the U14 final of Eddie Herr last December. It will be interesting to see how he progresses.
On the girls side, Beier Ko is doing well but I don't see her as a future top 100 player. Aleksandra Wozniak is making progress but she has rather erratic results. After a qf at the AO, she lost in the first round in Paris. Sharon Fichman is definitely the brightest prospect if she keeps progressing at this pace for the next three years. There is also Stefi Gjine who won the doubles title with Fichman in Eddie Herr's. Considering the fact that this girl started playing tennis when she was 10, she is doing great. But, alas, girls are very unpredictable, so we'll have to wait and see....

Randy H
Jun 5th, 2003, 02:02 AM
Maureen could have done more with her career earlier on had she had an easier time growing up (tough coach father). I think this affected her early on, she didn't have the right attitude out there, and she still battles with that. I don't think she would have been top 20 or anything, but considering she reached top 50 late in her career, she perhaps could have been a more consistent top 100 mainstay had she improved her attitude early in her career.

Sonya also had the talent, and still has the talent to be top 100. The important thing for her is confidence, and she relies on it a lot more than other players. Unfortunately I think it's too late for her to do much in singles, but I would be pleased to see her at least reach top 100 again.

I don't think the juniors have much hope right now, Wozniak seems the best hope of the older juniors right now, but as mentioned, she's been inconsistent. Beier is a good player, but she doesn't have a weapon and that will hold her back on the pro tour.

Hope to see Sharon Fichman keep improving, hopefully the pressure of being Canada's next 'big thing' won't affect her in a negative way.