Last month, Tennis Canada announced that Jocelyn Robichaud was appointed Head of U15 Development.
Jocelyn’s experience as a player, national coach and the Director of high-performance coaching are extensive and helped him win this position. Jocelyn is former top 10 ITF ranked junior, 3x Junior Grand Slam doubles champion, ATP ranked player and former Davis Cup team member and player. Jocelyn has a strong understanding of the club tennis development pathway and the club system given he grew up through this structure and spent the last five years as the Director of High Performance Coaching development working with the private sector coaches across Canada.
Jocelyn’s coaching career includes Jr. DC Captain, Fed Cup team coach and working at the Montreal National Training Centre as a national coach. He was the co-coach of Grand Slam junior champion Filip Peliwo and was also the supporting coach for Felix and Milos at the Montreal National Training Centre in the early years under Guillaume’s leadership. Jocelyn’s most recent role was the Director of High Performance Coaching Development. This included leading the mentor coach program, leading the High Performance coach certification/professional development for High Performance coaches and working with a variety of partners, coaches and administrators on the ground. Jocelyn is well respected by his peers and the private sector partners. He understands the club structure, private sector coaches and unique regional challenges. He is very invested and motivated to help improve the conditions for the pipeline for all involved.
To get to know him a little better, our team sat down with him to talk about his appointment and ask him a few questions about his day-to-day and the challenges that lie ahead.
WHEN DID YOU JOIN TENNIS CANADA?
I’ve always been part of Tennis Canada, especially when I became one of the best 18-year-old junior players and when I competed on the professional tours. When I retired from tennis at the age of 23, I maintained my ties with the organization when I worked in private clubs and the tournament in Repentigny, for example. When I was 27, I officially joined Tennis Canada as a national coach, just as Louis Borfiga was creating the National Tennis Centre. Louis is actually the one who offered me my first job at Tennis Canada, and it was such a unique experience. I spent nine years as a coach with Guillaume Marx and supported athletes like Milos Raonic, Filip Peliwo and Félix Auger-Aliassime. More recently, I was the director of the coaching certification program and then appointed Head of U15 Development in 2021.
WHEN DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR LOVE OF TENNIS?
My father played when I was young, so I often had the chance play in parks. I’ve always been pretty skilled on the courts. I was also very good at hockey, and a lot of people thought I had the potential to go far. But my tennis program was better structured—my coach was Sylvain Bruneau—and that partly influenced my decision to focus only on tennis. I believed that would give me the best chance of developing as an athlete, and that was the case.
WHAT ARE THE HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR CAREER UNTIL NOW?
As a player, being no.1 in junior doubles and no.11 in singles was amazing! I defeated players like the famous Bryan brothers and won three junior Slams. As a pro, I competed in the doubles semifinals of the National Bank Open, which was Rogers Cup then. That was definitely another highlight.
As a coach, it’s difficult to say because I have such great memories with several players. Of course, there were highlights in terms of results: I was working with Filip when he became the no.1 in juniors and won several Grand Slam titles. But, today, what I remember most is watching young people like Filip and Félix grow up and playing a part in their development. To me, that’s what I’ve most enjoyed in my coaching career, by far.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES YOU FORESEE IN YOUR NEW POSITION?
One of my key mandates is to review the competitive structure and create better ties with the academies and provincial associations. While we have good relations with all stakeholders in Canadian tennis, we strongly believe the entire network, from the clubs and provincial associations to the regional and national centres, could be optimized.
My other major challenge is to get more young people involved in competitive tennis. Overall, there’s been an increase in tennis participation in recent years, but it’s mainly at the recreational level. Tennis Canada’s goal is to improve the steps in the transition so more young players can compete in tournaments and potentially move into elite programs. That involves creating new playing opportunities, as well as supporting and developing the young players who join the different circuits.
ONE LAST THING: WHAT MANTRA DO YOU LIVE BY?
I don’t live by any mantra in particular, but if I had to come up with one, it would be if you do something in life, do it with effort and quality.