Camera shoot outside IGA Stadium

The movies have tried their hand at tennis, and now television has, too. Québec television, no less! 

In early 2023, the Noovo channel will broadcast eight episodes of the fictional series Double faute starring one of the province’s most sought-after actors, Éric Bruneau, who’s mostly known outside Québec for his role in Denys Arcand’s An Eye for Beauty.

Double faute is the story of a talented young tennis player from Québec. World No.187 Charles Rivard travels the world on the ATP Tour and grapples with all the challenges that can entail in terms of income, results and especially the media pressure that comes with competing at home. He must fight his demons and find a place in the sun.

Being 187th in the world isn’t like being in the Top 10. 

That’s something Richard Legendre, former director of the National Bank Open and now an analyst for TVA Sports, touched upon during the tournament: “In the NHL, there are 10 good players on every team. That’s 300 in all. Fans admire and cheer for the no.200 in hockey and consider him a star. In tennis, beyond World No.50, it’s not the same treatment.”

IGA Stadium regulars may already be familiar with the project, since Bruneau was spotted weekly in the halls and on the courts of the National Tennis Centre all winter. Spend a few minutes watching him hit, and you’ll realize what a solid player he is. 

But that’s not enough when you want the shots to be believable, whether your role is No.187 or not.  

When Shia Labeouf played Johnny Mac in Borg vs McEnroe, it took no time for eagle-eyed tennis fans to figure out he wasn’t particularly comfortable on the court. His tennis double must’ve had his work cut out for him.

Despite his talent, Éric Bruneau quickly admits he needs some support on set. “I get help from Quebecer Washi Gervais, who used to play for Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania.”


Although he’s athletic and in great shape, the actor acknowledges that there’s a step to climb from being good at tennis to joining the world elite. And it’s a big one.

“I realized that, physically, I’m not capable of playing tennis 8 to 10 hours a day all week. That’s a whole other ball game!” he conceded. 

Photo: Éric Bruneau

“To be honest, it’s almost a guilty pleasure. I took something I love and developed it as part of my craft. We’ve been shooting for almost ten days now, and it’s been ten days of sheer joy,” Bruneau said. 

What’s more, Canada’s tennis craze has grown exponentially over the past five years, and Netflix is currently making a documentary in its Drive to Survive series with Taylor Fritz.

“As an actor, you often do a lot of research to really understand who you’re supposed to be personifying, but I consume so much tennis in life that I’d already done all my research before getting started. Especially as far as some of the tics I stole here and there from players that fans will definitely recognize.”

Venture a guess?

“He likes to chew his necklace,” the actor said with a smile.


Photo: Getty

Seeing as he opened the door, I asked him if his serve routine will be like Rafael Nadal’s. “No, no way!” he replied with a laugh. “Each episode is only 42 minutes. And I won’t be adjusting my shorts every time, I promise.” 

Louis Morissette (left on the photo), president of KOTV, which is producing the series, co-wrote the scripts, mainly with Bruneau, and also plays Charles Rivard’s coach. 

You may know him as the star of The Guide to the Perfect Family on Netflix.

“My character’s name is Sylvain, which won’t come as a surprise, since it’s the other Sylvain—Sylvain Bruneau—who oversaw Éric’s tennis training. Must be a coincidence!” joked Morissette. 

“It’s a tribute,” Éric Bruneau immediately replied. A clarification the producer appreciated.  

“Just like his player, he wants to have his own moment of glory and get to the top of his profession and prove to himself he’s good at what he does, with all the impacts that can have on his family,” explained Morissette. “And he experiences the frustration many coaches feel, since they have little control over what their athlete will or won’t do on the court. The player can master all the basics, but if the mental aspect doesn’t follow, it’s tough for the coach.”

There are still a few scenes left to shoot, and Éric Bruneau’s guilty pleasure is almost over, but he’ll have realized his dream project.

“I’d always dreamed of playing an athlete, because there are really clear parallels between being an athlete and being an actor. It’s that moment backstage before a scene compared to the moment in the tunnel leading to the court and the moment you step onto centre court for a tennis player.”

“I also felt like tennis is a space to talk about ambition and transmission,” Bruneau continued.

“In tennis, unlike other sports, parents are often very involved in players’ careers. The coach–parent relationship isn’t an easy one and can sometimes lead conflict. For example, Montréal Canadiens coach Martin St-Louis doesn’t deal with Carey Price’s parents. It’s a bit of a stretch, but that’s the reality in tennis.” 

Recently told in King Richard, the story of the Williams sisters remains the most eloquent example of that. 

Separated at birth (5) 

It’s a rare occurrence.

No research or photo editing necessary. The WTA did it all for me for the quarterfinals of the National Bank Open in Toronto on August 11.

The image, the faces, the expressions, the postures, the outfit. It would be hard not to include the names of Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil and Belinda Bencic of Switzerland on the list of tennis athletes who look so much alike you’d think they were separated at birth.

I usually match a player and someone outside the tennis world. Finding two tennis pros doesn’t happen often. 

The slight difference is that Haddad Maia is left-handed and Bencic plays right-handed. 

That and the fact that Beatriz Haddad Maia won the match.


Twitter: @paul6rivard

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