The 12th annual TPA national coaching conference was held on Thursday at Toronto’s Aviva Centre and a record 260 participants were in attendance. This year’s headlining speaker was renowned coach Sam Sumyk, who is currently working with world no. 3 Garbiñe Muguruza and has formerly worked with both Eugenie Bouchard and Victoria Azarenka. Topics included maximizing the potential of your player, examples of typical high-performance training in the off-season, key priorities for technical development and tactical essentials in today’s game.
As part of the event, several important figures in the Canadian tennis landscape were honoured for their service to the sport with TPA Excellence Awards.
The 2017 Coaching Excellence Award has been given to Michael Hall, who has notably worked with players such as Alexandra Mikhailuk, Jessica Alsola and the U16 national champion Rachel Kryzak. The Ontario native is a certified Coach 3 and currently occupies the position of Director of High Performance at ACE Tennis in Burlington. Hall also previously worked with national champions Alejandro Tabilo, Sofija Zecevic and Charlotte Petrick.
Ryan Schroffel of Alberta is this year’s recipient of the Club Professional Excellence Award. A certified coach 3, Schroffel oversees eight staff members and is a course facilitator for Tennis Alberta’s instructor and Club Pro 1 certification courses. In addition to his role at the club, he is also involved in the tennis community, notably by chairing the Junior Development Committee of Tennis Alberta as well as hosting numerous tournaments and events at the club. Schroffel holds a Bachelor of Arts specializing in Coaching Studies from the University of Alberta and is a graduate of the High Performance Mentor Program.
Two facilities were also recognized for their outstanding contributions to the sport and their community this year. The OSTEN & VICTOR Alberta Tennis Centre was named the winner of the Year-Round Facility Excellence Award. This brand-new facility is already recognized as a silver Tennis Development Centre and counts over 400 staff members who are active certified TPA professionals. The centre hosts 10-12 provincial events annually, including an ITF Junior event, an ITF Senior event and the National Wheelchair Tennis Championships. When not hosting world-class national tournaments, the OSTEN & VICTOR Alberta Tennis Centre also runs programs open to the public. Over 5,000 kids are involved in the Canadian Western Bank School Tennis Program and over 5,000 players have used the facility in the past year.
The Seasonal Facility Excellence Award was presented to the Truro Tennis Club in Nova Scotia. The club counts six outdoor courts and the entire coaching staff is TPA certified to serve their 250 members. The club offers a variety of programming, events and activities, including professional development opportunities, community outreach programs and provincially sanctioned tournaments. Open from May until November, the Truro Tennis Club plays host to Tennis Nova Scotia and Tennis Nova Scotia Adult Team events in the spring and fall each year.
The 2017 Course Facilitator Excellence Award was presented to Eddie Brisbois of Ontario. Brisebois is a certified coach 3 and a graduate of the High Performance Mentor Program. He has been at the helm of the Ontario PTC Program for five years and has worked for the Toronto Tennis Academy for 12 years. The former Gary Caron Scholarship winner was the head Ontario coach for the Canada Summer Games and has coached no less than five National Champions.
Alberta’s Ralph McNiven is the winner of the TPA Service to the Game Excellence Award. He has been involved in tennis for over 30 years and is a certified coach 2. McNiven was previously a member of the High Performance Committee for many years and is currently volunteering for both the Tournaments and Appeals Committees. He also started a charitable organization five years ago with the intent of raising funds to be able to increase the prize money for tournaments in Alberta as well as for local charities. To date, the organization had donated over $120,000. This past November, McNiven received an award from the mayor of Calgary in recognition of his charitable work.
The Paul & Joyce Chapnick Under 10 Development Coaching Development Scholarship was awarded to Jean-Sébastien Lavoie of Quebec. Lavoie was recognized for his work as a certified coach 2 managing the U10 competitive programs at Academie Herisset Bordeleau in Quebec City. He works with some of the top junior players in the province, four of which have finished in the Top 8 of the U10 Championnats Québécois and five who are on the U10 provincial team.
Andrea Rabzak of Ontario is the second recipient of the Rene Simpson-Collins Excellence Award for outstanding female coaching, which is accompanied by a $2,000 scholarship to help offset training and development costs. A certified coach 3 and club pro 2, she has been in the coaching world for over 30 years, having worked with a number of High Performance junior players. Rabzak has also lead women’s and men’s competitive league teams as well as given group and private lessons for adults. A mentor coach for Gabriela Dabrowski, she is a multiple recipient of the Tennis Canada Coaching Excellence Award and has received a Tennis Canada distinguished service award for her contribution to junior development.
The Gary Caron Scholarship was presented to Ontario native Sharon Fichman, who is currently enrolled in the Tennis Canada Mentor Program. As a former professional player, Fichman represented Canada on a number of occasions in Fed Cup and reached a career-high ranking of world no. 77 in 2014. She is a certified coach 3 and is working at the Granite Club in Toronto. One of Fichman’s career goals is to be named Captain of the Canadian Fed Cup team.
*Feature photo: Peter Figura