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How can Nova Scotia Juniors begin competing on a National Level?

Gareth Dowdell - Friday, May 15, 2015

Why are parents happy to put their kid in Hockey 5 times a week, but unlikely to do the same for Tennis? Maybe it’s because parents can see a clear pathway to professional success with Hockey. Parents contend that ‘Sidney Crosby, Brad Marchand and Nathan MacKinnon were brought up in this community, and that future for my child seems attainable’. Tennis seems to be more of an unknown entity.

Hockey will probably always be the most popular sport in this province. It is firmly ingrained in the Canadian psyche. Perhaps sometime in the distant future Soccer will flirt with the top spot, but it certainly will never be Tennis. In our schools there is also a perceived hierarchy. Math and Science are at the top, while the Arts languish at the bottom. Few parents would consider Dance to be as important a subject as Physics. Much like few parents would consider Tennis to be as important as Hockey. If we are to begin consistently producing nationally competitive tennis players in Nova Scotia, we need to do it in spite of the current culture.

We recently had Severine Tamborero visit DNTC as part of her tour of Eastern Canada. She is the Director of High Performance Clubs and Under 10 Development based at the National Training Centre in Montreal. She gave us the following feedback on our high performance program and how we could improve:

-Parents cannot be afraid to choose tennis as their kids’ dominant sport. We spend a lot of time accommodating players’ other sport schedules when it comes to Elite sessions. Unfortunately, this method of prioritization will never produce quality tennis players. Commitment is key.

-Tennis must be fun. At DNTC we are not interested in spending eternity fine-tuning technique. We focus on building confidence through repetition, and reducing the fear of losing. Players should play to win, too many juniors play not to lose.

-The Tennis Canada Long Term Athlete Development model states that 13-15 year old players should spend 12-14 hours training each week. One or two sessions each week is simply not enough to be competitive on a national stage.

-Players need to set clear goals in order to put in the tremendous time and effort required to master tennis. Gaining an NCAA scholarship is both attainable and realistic, and the future possibilities after graduation are limitless.

In the Fall there will be serious changes to the structure of our High Performance programming. Players will be selected based on attitude. Players will be expected to commit to at least 4 days of training per week. We are devoted to giving players who are serious about a future in Tennis an opportunity to meet their promise.