Photo : Martin Sidorjak
As part of a six-part content series presented by Sobeys, we will share the expertise of multiple Tennis Canada spokespeople including our nutritionist Ariane Lavigne, coaches, advisors as well as players and their parents when it comes to food, family, and sport. This fourth article sheds light on how Tennis Canada is equipping players and their families with the tools to ensure healthy eating habits during their time at the full-time National Tennis Centre (NTC) presented by Rogers in Montreal.
Since being inaugurated in September 2007 with the goal of producing Canada’s next generation of tennis champions, the NTC has become a well-oiled machine. No stone has been left unturned to help our top prospects reach their full potential whether it’s on the court or off through fitness, injury prevention, mental health, and nutrition. Everything works together to allow each athlete to have an individual development program that is specifically adapted to them.
From a nutrition standpoint, the players can rely on the expertise of Lavigne who creates a plan for them when it comes to meals, hydration, snacks, and electrolyte intake based on their training and tournament schedule. She also meets with the families at the start of every new session in September to provide them with guidelines and documents, so their food intake is appropriate while at home and away from the NTC. She also has regular follow-ups with the players to discuss their diets.
While the NTC team makes sure the athletes are eating well thanks to initiatives like a hand-picked caterer during training camps, an array of fruit available in the classroom at all times, and regular supervised runs to the supermarket while at tournaments, the families are crucial to upkeeping the kids’ nutrition. Not to mention that many of them have relocated to Montreal to support their child’s budding tennis career.
“This generation nourishes themselves better than previous ones,” said Academic Advisor André Barrette who has been with the NTC since the beginning. “They are more aware of food diversity and that awareness is being raised in society. The parents of these kids are also from a different generation and are far more conscious of what a healthy diet looks like.”
Lavigne constantly monitors players’ routines, when they’re eating, what they’re eating, and how much they’re eating to provide them and their families with different food options as well as tips to make meal preparation easier. She encourages them to make extra while preparing meals to have enough for the following day. Some family favourites include chili, salad bowls, quinoa with protein, homemade muffins, and overnight oats. Lavigne also encourages them to help the players become autonomous when it comes to making the right food choices and learning to cook for themselves.
It’s no secret that parents play a vital role in the success of athletes competing at the highest level, regardless of the sport. The importance of their positive impact at the NTC, especially when it comes to nutrition, is further proof of that.