Tennis Canada | Young racquet, young star

Despite the complications, the tennis season is on. Leaders for Canada, the Fernandez, Auger-Aliassime, Andreescu and Shapovalov are only 18 to 21 years old. Pretext for a discussion with Séverine Tamborero, Director of U10 Development at Tennis Canada.

Posted on January 15, 2021 at 7:00 a.m.

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Frederick Duchesneau
Press

Director of Development… U10. The title is surprising.

Spotting is done at a very young age in the world of tennis. And, conversely, the little ones have more reasons than ever to dream big quickly.

Because when they look “up”, they see Milos Raonic, 14e world. Vasek Pospisil, 61e, at the end of the year’s return to the ATP circuit.

But, above all, Denis Shapovalov, 12e, and Félix Auger-Aliassime, 21e, the two youngest among the top 35 in the world. Bianca Andreescu, 7e, the youngest among women among the top 15. And Leylah Annie Fernandez, second youngest of the top 100 of the WTA, at 88e rang.

Without forgetting Eugenie Bouchard, current 141e, while she had finished the year 2019 in 224e place.

“Whether we talk about it for good or for bad, the image it gave to tennis at the start is an image that the girls wanted to have”, underlines Mme Tamborero on the one who reached the 5e worldwide in 2014.

Golden age

No doubt, Canadian tennis is experiencing its golden age. And all of these players are role models for the next generation. A good thing. But that must translate into a certain caution in the approach with the young elite.

Séverine Tamborero, who is also director of high performance clubs, reiterates this regularly during the conversation.

“Because you shouldn’t rely on exceptions,” she says. For me, a Félix, at 7, is an exception. And it’s one thing to have a certain potential – I like to use the word “potential” rather than “talent” -, but after that, there are so many factors that influence all that: health, physical development, access to various tournament possibilities. Sometimes, in fact, we tend to look at Félix or Denis and say to ourselves that if at 10 years old, we are not Canadian champion, things are not going well. “

However, there are many routes to reach the top 100 world, which allows players to make a living from their sport.

You have to be careful not to go too fast. We can have this perception, when we see the pros, that we have to do this early. This is where our role is super important and we have to tell parents that it does not matter if the child is not Canadian champion at 10 years old.

Séverine Tamborero, Director of U10 Development at Tennis Canada

“Because that’s when the stress and anxiety come in and they’re like, ‘Hey, am I spending all this money for nothing?’” Says Mme Tamborero, with Tennis Canada for twenty years, the last six of which in his current role.

These parents who, as we know, will always have a major impact on their child’s development. Positive or negative, but they will have one. Hence the importance attached to them by the Director of Development U10. By meeting and informing them.

“The parent who is extreme in his involvement in the sport of his child, he always will be,” she says bluntly. But if we want to at least have parents who make the best decisions, we must inform them quickly. We may have a young dedicated to his sport, super competitive, who loves tennis and who we believe will be there for a long time. If the parent is not helped in the process, there is a good chance that the youngster will not even stay in the sport. “

Feed the dream

We are therefore in the management of expectations. Stress. Pressure on a child’s shoulders. Part of these expectations may come from the young person himself. But, as a general rule, at this age, it is not negative.

“A young person who tells us at 9 or 10 years old – I even ask them until 13, 14 years old what they expect from their sport – that he wants to be pro, I answer him: ‘Perfect, here is what that is. take and what we need to do ”. It is sure that if at 16, 17, you are 10e in your province and you want to be pro, there may be a discussion to have … But at a young age, you have to nurture this dream, and it is correct that a young person tells us that. Even if we know as an adult that only 1% will be successful, it is not important. “

Feed. This verb comes up many times during the interview. Feed the dream. Feed the base. Feed the young.

In addition to the role that she imposes on parents, Séverine Tamborero travels in the training environment of children, across Canada, to observe them, help coaches – she has been coaching since she was 17 years old -, work with the provinces, which have their own structures.

Her position as U10 director, she sums it up as follows: “Basically, I am the eyes of the coaches of the regional centers and the National Tennis Canada Center. “

Given that my job is to tour the country, to have this look at hundreds of young people in a year, I am sure to become a benchmark for my colleagues.

Séverine Tamborero, Director of U10 Development at Tennis Canada

Despite the pandemic and the impossibility of being on the ground, the work continues. Remotely, with webinars, for example. And Mme Tamborero – who is also an author – says she receives a lot of videos to give her opinion, her suggestions.

Recruitment and development, however, is “inadequate, if not nonexistent”, at the present time, among those aged 10 and under at the Canadian level.

“There will unfortunately be consequences for our young people in the coming months and years,” she laments.

But normal life will resume its course. And, with it, the search for these young nuggets.

So how do we detect them? What, at such a young age, at 8, 9 or 10 years old, do we see the potential?

“Often, we see it by the attitude of the young person,” says the coach. I remember having conversations with children who told me: “I saw such and such a video, such and such player, he was doing that ”. We see that he tries to copy a little on the court. That he has physical abilities, runs well, he is on the ball. And he wants to be on the ground. This is the first thing we look at.

“And after that, for sure we look at skills. Now what is getting more and more difficult is trying to determine if the youngster is like that in his nature, in his personality, or if it is something that has been trained. And it’s tough to make a difference. When coaches ask me what I think of a youngster, I ask them how often he trains and how long he’s been playing. Because my comment will depend on this information. We have to go beyond what we see to give these young people the right tools. “

The next

By force of circumstances, Séverine Tamborero follows the development of young people after 10 years.

She was not U10 Development Director when Félix Auger-Aliassime was part of the program, but she nevertheless had a front row seat to scrutinize her development.

This is the fun part of the job. To see that they have something, then to see them progress.

Séverine Tamborero, Director of U10 Development at Tennis Canada

And who are the next hopes? She spontaneously names Jaden Weekes and Annabelle Xu, both 16, who are at the National Center.

“I worked with both when they were young. They have the potential, the determination, the competitive attitude ”, notes Mme Drummer.

She also names a few players from Ontario.

“We have a certain succession. But what you have to be careful of is that you don’t want it to be cyclical, just chance. We want to continue to feed young people and if there are any who stand out, so much the better. But we shouldn’t either – it would be a mistake – to do it by wanting the next Felix or the next Bianca. We must not base our development structure on exceptions, ”she repeats.

“But we can take inspiration from it. “

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