December 9, 2013
Welcome to Tennis Elbow, a new column that will look back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon has a special edition of the column—one that profiles two Toronto entrepreneurs and their new app.
Mario Filipas and Alan Fong are living proof of that old cliché, that the friends you make in university are the ones you will keep your entire life.
I meet Filipas in late September at a café in downtown Toronto, and soon enough Fong joins us. And when I say that he joins us, I mean that he comes in barging through the door, hits Filipas in the back, and Filipas screams “Ouch!” and then they both laugh—you know, university friends!
But Filipas and Fong aren’t in university anymore. They’re middle-aged men, entrepreneurs living in Toronto, and they have developed an idea. And for that idea, they have developed an app. “There’s an app for that,” and now there could also be an app for tennis.
LoveCourts allows any- and everyone to “play like the pros.” That’s the tagline. With the LoveCourts app, you can play like the pros. Mario and Alan are saying this, “Play like the pros,” as they’re showing me a demo of the app on an iPad. “Why can’t the everyday player get a taste of that experience?” Filipas asks.
Everything, in 2013, is about interaction and connecting more and more people to each other. LoveCourts is working toward that, specifically for tennis players. “You have your small circle of tennis players that you play with and unless you join a club and enter a league,” Filipas says, “there’s no way to find other tennis players.”
That’s what LoveCourts helps most with.
Filipas thinks the logic is sound. “Anyone who occasionally plays,” he says, “ must want to get into (tennis), and this is to help encourage them.”
With LoveCourts you can play like the pros, remember?
Professional tennis is a weird sport—let’s pretend, here, that you’re a professional player. You play against a fellow pro, and the spectators know your strengths, your weaknesses, your head-to-head record and your ranking. You play and play and play until there’s a winner and maybe you’re the winner. In which case, you get to repeat it again the following day until there’s yet another winner, and so on until only one person is left standing and that’s the person who has won the tournament. One week has passed, and with the start of a new week comes the start of another tournament, and new winners, losers, etc.
Contrast that with the way us average folks play tennis.
We play and play and play until there’s a winner, and whether we’re the winner or not really doesn’t matter. We hit the showers, and then we drive back home because we’ve played in the evening and we have to work the following morning—or worse, we played this match in the morning and we now need to rush to the office for our 9-to-5-p.m. regular job.
We can’t play every day, because we’re not good enough and because we have a life outside of the sport. For us, tennis is a hobby but that doesn’t mean that we’re not happy when we beat “Bob from accounting” 6-1, 6-4. LoveCourts helps with that. “What if you could record all the matches that were played on that one court?” Filipas asks. “You have an instant league on that court.”
Or maybe you don’t play competitive tennis. In this case, you still probably would like to see “track your own progress” over time, Fong says, and LoveCourts helps here too. “You bring your phone to the tennis courts after all,” as Fong says. Entering data in a mobile app should be easy enough.
With the app, you can host and participate in more tournaments, in your neighbourhood or otherwise. You can schedule regular matches against people you know and others against people you don’t know, confident that in all cases you will be pitted against someone of your level. You can have more competitive matches or track your progress. That’s what Fong and Filipas mean with the tagline “Play like the pros.” It’s not that you can hit a backhand down the line like Novak Djokovic can. It’s that you can play tennis matches more regularly and with more partners.
Manage your tennis life—Fong says that’s what the app is for. They both know a thing or two about managing a tennis life, as they’ve played more matches against one another than against anyone else. They both have loved the sport as much as they remember, and Fong says that he won “every single match that we played for 10 years.” (Filipas, on the other hand, contests that assessment.) For the longest time, they would debate who won the most matches. This app fixes that problem, recording the date, opponent, result and even location of each match entered.
If the “whole goal is to play more,” as Fong and Filipas explain, then LoveCourts only needs to be reliable to fulfill what could be a large potential. I’m the perfect guinea pig for it too. This past summer, I played tennis almost twice a week on average, every time with the one same friend of mine. We are both recent graduates, live close to each other, have the same type of financial capabilities (read: non-existent) and, most importantly, are on the same level. I play with friend X, because he’s the only person that I know in Toronto who is as good/bad as I am.
Canada will never be a tennis country, everyone knows this—Milos Raonic, Alan, Mario, myself, all of us know. Canada is hockey country, always has been and always will be. But tennis is growing. “It’s a snowball effect, right? So we just want to be part of that snow to make that ball bigger,” says Fong. “We think we can do that.”
Filipas is confident that the app could develop into something big and says that the end game is hopefully his photo and Fong’s on the cover of TENNIS magazine. The tagline? “Changed tennis forever.” Filipas is at a loss for words on what a successful product would mean. “For others to like our product, I mean… Wow,” he says. “But the other thing is that it won’t be successful for me if it isn’t successful for others too.”
LoveCourts is just a beta version when I see it, but I can definitely see the appeal right away. If nothing else, it’s because it looks very good. They have relied on the traditional Wimbledon colours, the purple and green that reminds everyone of the Cathedral of tennis.
We leave the café after about an hour, and I walk home even though I live about half an hour away. I’d rather save the three bucks the transit would cost me, plus it’s nice and warm outside. It’s in late September, which means that the snow will arrive soon enough in Toronto.
I have maybe six more good weeks of tennis, if I’m lucky. We’ve yet to invent an app to fix that problem. Damn snow.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG
July 25, 2013
The following is a rebuttal from Viktor Troicki regarding his recent suspension from the ATP World Tour. It was given to us by Corrado Tschabuschnig, who is former Tour player and now Troicki’s agent at Topseed.
Can you explain what actually happened?
It happened in Monte Carlo this spring. I was feeling awfully bad on April 15th before, during and after the 1st round match against Jarkko Nieminen. I was selected for urine and blood test after the match and went to the doping control station after showering and stretching. I gave the urine samples and told the doctor I was feeling really bad and I believed that drawing blood would make me feel even worse. I always feel awful when I need to draw blood and that day I was scared I would end up in hospital.
The doctor in charge of the testing told me that I looked very pale and ill, and that I could skip the test if I wrote an explanation letter to ITF about it. She dictated the letter to me and let me go without giving blood. She was very helpful and understanding.
And what went wrong thereafter?
Now I am being charged for refusing to undergo a blood test without justification. This is a real nightmare.
I was 100% sure everything was ok, just like my coach Jack Reader who was in the doping control station room with me during at least half of the procedure.
Did you eventually have a blood test when you felt better?
Yes, I had a blood test from the same doping control officer the next morning.
Did you get the urine and blood test results back, and if you did what did they show?
Both negative, totally clean.
How often have you been tested in an out of competition?
I was tested 5 times for blood and many more times for Urine.
Have you ever missed a test before?
No, I never missed a test before.
Have you consulted with the ATP medical team to back you up?
No I haven’t. The doping control officer doing the controls was a doctor herself. I asked her and she showed me all her diplomas. She checked me and told me I could skip the test and dictated me the explanation for it. After I left the doping control station I went straight to bed and slept all afternoon. I didn’t see any reason to worry so I didn’t look for any help.
What are your immediate thoughts, feelings?
I am destroyed and exhausted. The whole period I have been thinking only about this issue. And it is not over yet, so I can’t really describe it. I am not even angry with the doctor. I believe that maybe she was told by her organization that she made a big mistake letting me go she backed up and tried to save her job.
Have you spoken to other players?
Yes, I spoke to my doubles partner Seppi and other players tonight. They are as shocked as me and they think it is ridiculous. It could have happened to anyone of them.
Will you be appealing?
Yes for sure. I put my trust in the Court of Arbitration of Sports in Lausanne, I really hope they will look for the truth and find it, which is only one.
The doping rules are pretty strict but do you feel there should be consideration for such situations?
The doping rules are strict and they must remain strict. But this was a clear mistake from the on-site doping control officer who was also a doctor, and the person in charge to decide. She let me go and reassured me. In my opinion once she found out that she didn’t follow the procedures she turned her back on me.
Have you spoken to Novak and if so what has he said?
He said that he is sure it will end good because I am innocent, and that ATP should really back me up with this.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
I feel like I am being treated like a criminal and I have not committed anything at all. I have a fear of the needle and I always have troubles drawing blood. But I always did. I am clean and will always be clean throughout my career. I just had the wrong doctor who didn’t tell me at all that I was risking anything. She showed me a letter of the ITF saying she is in charge of the decisions and I trusted her completely. I wish I had recorded the discussion, there would have never been a case if I did.
I am 100% sure that the court of arbitration in Lausanne will consider my good faith and my total innocence. But now, this enormous sanction makes me speechless. It feels like the world that I help building day by day has let me down. It is the worst feeling you can imagine.
What are you going to do now?
I really don’t know. It is all fresh and I can’t really believe it yet. I am a fighter and I will try to fight, together with my team and my lawyers, but I am quite destroyed now. I hope this nightmare will come to a good end, and I really want to continue playing. I don’t deserve this.
March 26, 2013
Toronto, March 26, 2013 – Tennis Canada announced Tuesday the Miele Canadian Davis Cup team nominated to compete in the upcoming Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group quarter-final tie between Canada and Italy.
Frank Dancevic (Niagara Falls, Ontario), Daniel Nestor (Toronto), Vasek Pospisil (Vancouver) and Milos Raonic (Thornhill, Ontario) were named to the squad by captain Martin Laurendeau to compete on an indoor hard court at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre in Vancouver from April 5-7, 2013. Jesse Levine (Ottawa), Filip Peliwo (Vancouver) and Adil Shamasdin (Toronto) will also be travelling to Vancouver with the team as part of an extended squad of players. Available members of the team are currently taking part in a training camp to prepare for the tie at Uniprix Stadium in Montreal before heading to Vancouver later this week.
The Italian Tennis Federation also announced the team that will head to Vancouver to face-off against Canada. They selected world No. 19 Andreas Seppi, current No. 2 doubles team Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini as well as No. 59 Paolo Lorenzi. Fognini is also a highly-ranked singles player at No. 36.
“Any team that reaches the final eight in Davis Cup competition is going to be a very tough group of players and this is definitely true of Italy,” said Laurendeau. “We have the same group of guys already in Montreal working hard to get ready to play this team and we will continue the preparation in Vancouver next week leading up to the tie. We are still on a high from making history in February and we want to ride that momentum, take advantage of this opportunity and keep this going into the semifinals.”
Dancevic has competed for Canada’s Davis Cup team every year since 2002 except when he was hampered with a back injury in 2008. He holds an impressive 13-5 record in Davis Cup matches played on home soil. One of his biggest career Davis Cup victories came during February’s tie against Spain when he defeated their top singles player Marcel Granollers 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 to give Canada a resounding 2-0 lead after the first day of play. Dancevic has come through for his team in big moments in the past as he clinched the fifth and deciding rubber against Brazil in 2003 to send Canada back to the World Group after more than a decade absence. Dancevic recently qualified for the Masters 1000 event in Miami last week but fell in the first round to Lukasz Kubot.
Nestor holds the record for most years played by a Canadian in Davis Cup at 21. He also holds the record for most wins (44), most doubles wins (29), and most ties played (43). He was awarded a Davis Cup Commitment Award from the ITF at the tie in February for his exemplary dedication to playing for his country. Nestor holds 80 ATP World Tour doubles titles, which is fourth on the all-time list, and holds a career Golden Slam (all four Grand Slam trophies and an Olympic Gold medal). He is currently ranked No. 5 on the ATP World Tour doubles rankings.
Pospisil will be playing his eighth tie for Canada in Davis Cup. He was a key contributor to Canada’s return to the World Group in 2011, going 6-1 in the three ties he played and nearly single-handedly winning the World Group play-off versus Israel. Currently No. 129 in singles, Pospisil qualified for the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells earlier this month and was a finalist at the $35K Rimouski Challenger in Quebec this past weekend.
The highest-ranked singles player nominated to play this upcoming tie at No. 16 in the world, Raonic has had a successful start to the 2013 season. In addition to tying his career-best fourth-round appearance at the Australian Open in January, he also won his third consecutive SAP Open title at San Jose and reached the fourth round at Indian Wells earlier this month. Raonic is on a 5-0 Davis Cup singles win streak dating back to the World Group tie against France last year. He won both of his singles matches in the play-off against South Africa and the historic victory over Spain earlier this year.
Canada is entering uncharted territory for this upcoming tie as it is the country’s first Davis Cup quarter-final appearance in history. It has been 15 years since Italy was last in this stage of the competition as they finished as runners-up in 1998. Canada is the higher-ranked team at No. 8 with Italy sitting right behind at No. 9. This will be the first meeting between the two teams.
The winner of this tie will move on to the semifinals in September versus the winner of a tie between Serbia and the United States. The loser will be eliminated from 2013 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas competition, but both nations have already qualified for World Group action in 2014 because of their first-round victories.
Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is the largest annual international team competition in sport with 130 nations competing. Only 16 countries entered in Davis Cup competition qualify for the World Group each year.
January 22, 2013
Toronto, January 22, 2013 – Tennis Canada announced Tuesday the Miele Canadian Davis Cup team nominated to compete in the upcoming Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group first-round tie between Canada and Spain.
Frank Dancevic (Niagara Falls, Ontario), Daniel Nestor (Toronto), Vasek Pospisil (Vancouver) and Milos Raonic (Thornhill, Ontario) were named to the squad by captain Martin Laurendeau to compete on indoor hard court at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre in Vancouver from February 1-3, 2013. Jesse Levine (Ottawa), Filip Peliwo (Vancouver) and Adil Shamasdin (Toronto) will also be travelling to Vancouver with the team as part of an extended squad of players.
The Spanish Tennis Federation also announced the team that will head to Vancouver to face-off against Canada. They selected World No. 11 Nicolas Almagro, Top 5 doubles team Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez as well as No. 51 Albert Ramos. Granollers is also a highly-ranked singles player at No. 33.
“Over the last couple of years we have really established a solid group of players who are all passionate about playing Davis Cup,” said Laurendeau. “I’m extremely happy with the group coming to Vancouver and feel confident about returning to a place that showed us such tremendous fan support last year. Spain is going to be a real challenge. They are the top team in the world with incredible depth. They have 13 players in the Top 100 alone so no matter what team they’re bringing, it will be stacked with talent. Our guys will train hard all week and be at their best for the weekend but we will also need a loud crowd on our side to help us pull off this upset.”
Dancevic has competed for Canada’s Davis Cup team every year since 2002 except in 2008 when he was hampered with a back injury. He holds an impressive 12-4 record in Davis Cup matches played on home soil. In 2012 he captured the $125K Dallas Tennis Classic defeating top players Igor Andreev, Marin Cilic and Yen-Hsun Lu en route. He also reached the final of the $50K Tallahassee Challenger and the semifinals of the $100K Vancouver Challenger. His career-high ranking is No. 65, achieved in 2007.
Nestor holds the record for most years played by a Canadian in Davis Cup at 20. He also holds the record for most wins (44), most doubles wins (29) and most ties played (42). Nestor is currently ranked No. 5 in the world in doubles and has started the year in a new partnership with another veteran doubles specialist in Mahesh Bhupathi. In 2012 he captured his eighth Grand Slam title and became the oldest player to hit the No. 1 ranking spot in singles or doubles on the ATP World Tour. Nestor holds 80 ATP World Tour doubles titles, which is fourth on the all-time list, and holds a career Golden Slam (all four Grand Slam trophies and an Olympic Gold medal).
Pospisil will be playing his seventh tie for Canada in Davis Cup. He was a key contributor to Canada’s return to the World Group in 2011, going 6-1 in the three ties he played and nearly single-handedly winning the World Group play-off versus Israel. In 2012, he captured his first two ATP Challenger events at the $35K Rimouski and $50K Granby tournaments and reached his first ATP World Tour quarter-final at Kuala Lumpur. He reached a career-high ranking of No. 85 in July of last year.
Raonic continued his rise as one of the young stars of the game in 2012, finishing the year as the top-ranked North American at No. 13 in the world. He picked up two more titles at Chennai and San Jose and was a finalist at Memphis and Tokyo. He also reached his first two Masters 1000 quarter-finals at Rogers Cup and Cincinnati in successive weeks. He matched his career-best performance at a Slam by making the fourth round at the US Open, a feat he accomplished again this past week at the Australian Open before falling to world No. 2 Roger Federer. Raonic has compiled an 8-4 record for Canada in Davis Cup play in just six ties.
Spain is the seeded team and also the top-ranked Davis Cup team in the world. They have dominated Davis Cup competition since 2000, winning five times (2000, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2011) and finishing as runner-up twice (2003, 2012).
The only other time the two countries have met in Davis Cup action was in 1991 when Spain defeated Canada 4-1 in the World Group first round.
The winner of this tie in February will move on to the World Group quarter-finals and will also be assured to keep their spot in the World Group for the following year. The losing nation will be forced to play a World Group play-off tie to keep their spot in the elite level for 2014.
Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is the largest annual international team competition in sport with 130 nations competing. Only 16 countries entered in Davis Cup competition qualify for the World Group each year.
A limited number of tickets for the event are still available at www.ticketermaster.ca or by calling 1-855-985-5000. For more information about the event, please visit www.tenniscanada.com/daviscup.
Davis Cup by BNP Paribas match schedule for Canada vs. Spain
Friday, February 1, 2013 1 p.m. Singles
Saturday, February 2, 2013 1 p.m. Doubles
Sunday, February 3, 2013 11 a.m. Reverse Singles
September 16, 2012
Montreal, September 16, 2012 – The Miele Canadian Davis Cup team will remain in the World Group for Davis Cup by BNP Paribas next year after defeating South Africa 4-1 in a World Group play-off tie held outdoors this weekend at Uniprix Stadium in Montreal.
After Daniel Nestor (Toronto, ON) and Vasek Pospisil (Vancouver, BC) were unable to clinch the tie for Canada in Saturday’s doubles rubber losing in straight sets, Milos Raonic (Thornhill, ON) secured the winning point for his country with a decisive 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Izak Van Der Merwe in Sunday’s first reverse singles rubber between the teams’ no. 1 players.
Raonic was dominant from the first ball, getting an early break in all three sets to maintain control throughout the match. The 21-year-old executed both on serve and with his groundstrokes, continually keeping his opponent on his heels.
“I am proud to be part of this new era of Canadian tennis.” Raonic said.” It’s great to be back in the World Group, there’s a lot of time between now and February for us all to improve so that we can improve our chances of advancing further in the World Group in 2013.”
Frank Dancevic (Niagara Falls, ON) capped the weekend with a 6-2, 6-2 triumph over Nikala Scholtz, who was appearing in his first Davis Cup tie for South Africa.
“To qualify for the World Group for two straight years shows that we can consistently perform at a high level,” said Team Canada captain Martin Laurendeau. “It was a great team effort this week starting with the way we practiced, the way we prepared for the tie, and the way we executed and played the matches.”
This is the first time since 1991-‘92 that Canada has qualified for the World Group in consecutive years. Only 16 nations entered in Davis Cup play qualify for the elite World Group. The draw for opponent and choice of ground will take place this Wednesday, September 19 in London at 11:00 a.m. local time (6 a.m. ET). The World Group first round tie will be played from February 1-3, 2013.
April 2, 2012
Rafael Nadal and his uncle Toni demo the latest Play & Connect racquet from Babolat.
This technology is sure to change the game. There’s a cool track to compliment the video as well.
January 31, 2012
Grand Slam Tennis 2 will feature all four Grand Slam championships and is the only game to feature Wimbledon. Players can experience the thrill of serving up aces on Wimbledon’s prestigious Centre Court or hitting cross-court winners on the clay courts of the French Open. In addition, the game features a deep roster of elite past and present players and will be coming worldwide in 2012.
Grand Slam Tennis 2 will include a host of gameplay features including:
· All-New Total Racquet Control: Control every shot with the right analog stick, smashing forehands, backhands, overheads and volleys with precision, accuracy and power. Utilize this innovative control system to take your game to the top!
· Become a Champion: Become a true Grand Slam tournament champion by capturing all four major championships in succession. The prestige of some of the most historic events in tennis come alive like never before, including the Australian Open, French Open, U.S. Open and exclusive to EA SPORTS Grand Slam® Tennis franchise — Wimbledon.
· PlayStation Move Support: The motion control experience gets you on your feet and puts a racquet right in the palm of your hands. From casual players to tennis masters, you truly have the chance to swing your way to victory.
· Legends of Now and Then: Play with or against more than 20 of the greatest players to ever grace the courts, including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Bjorn Borg, Maria Sharapova, Serena and Venus Williams and exclusive to EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis franchise, seventeen-time winner of a Grand Slam tournament John McEnroe.
· Professional, Realistic, Organic (P.R.O.). AI: The playing styles and behaviors of the sport’s greatest stars are captured right down to their signature swings and emotional reactions. Realistic tactics and strategies are your keys to success against each legend whether playing on hard court, clay or grass. The organic artificial intelligence adapts to your game so there’s never a dull moment!
· ESPN Grand Slam Tournament Classics: Relive some of the most memorable moments in tennis. From Borg versus McEnroe to Nadal versus Federer, play your way through history unlocking up to 25 amazing moments of Grand Slam tournaments.
· Deep Tennis Experience: Play countless hours of tennis in Play Now mode — singles and doubles, through a 10-year career or battle online. A wide variety of online gameplay features, Photo Game Face and more keep your experience fresh and authentic.
October 4, 2011
The 2012 Australian Open will offer the most prize money in the history of Grand Slam tennis. The the men’s and women’s champions will take home a record A$2.3 million (US$2.18 million) each.
This year’s US Open paid out $1.8 million to the Novak Djokovic and Sam Stosur, with Djokovic earning an extra $500,000 because he finished second in the US Open Series.
August 7, 2011
Just in time for his return to the courts, world No. 2 Rafael Nadal has been highlighted in a new ad campaign for Emporio Armani’s Fall/Winter collection.
The Spaniard, who is seen running through most of the video, discloses what he likes about fashion, and how he’s honored to be associated with the legendary brand.
June 20, 2011
Contenders for the most famous grass tennis tournament in the World will face a daunting prospect when they arrive this week… a 70 metre portrait of Roger Federer! The tennis ace’s face has been reproduced on a field in London by sponsors Gillette marking arguably the biggest homage to him yet, not to mention Gillette’s biggest ever shave.
The 2,800 square meter image has been created in grass using laser guided robots with high-precision technology to plot over 14,000 mapping points required to bring the environmentally friendly image to life. 7 different shades of green specialist grass paint were used to create Federer’s features resulting in the unique portrait.
Not only is the design a feat in its own right, but Federer’s face was also treated to a genuine shave. The image was blasted with bio-degradable foam before lawnmowers set to the task of getting him looking his best ahead of what is set to be a busy week. Over 3,000 litres of diluted paint were used to create the masterpiece as well as 1,000 diluted litres of black and white paint to create a 5 o’clock shadow for the tennis superstar. A 1,000 litres of environmentally friendly and biodegradable foam were then used to lubricate the high-precision shave and in total 210 man hours went into the whole process.
Gillette undertook a similar project in New York earlier this year when a giant billboard image of baseball legend Derek Jeter was also “shaved”. However, this time Gillette decided to go one better and beat their own biggest ever shave with a significantly larger image. Gillette also appealed to their Facebook community ( HYPERLINK “http://www.facebook.com/GilletteUK” www.facebook.com/GilletteUK), who were asked to offer messages of support for Federer. Over the course of a couple of days facebook fans submitted over 2000 messages with one lucky winner having their piece of inspiration added to the final design.
Upon seeing the portrait Federer said: “Obviously I have seen myself on posters and on screen before but to see my face shaved into grass was a definite first for me! All the support that I’ve received from the Gillette UK Facebook fans has been incredible and I look forward to a great fortnight of tennis.”
Gillette Brand Manager Jared Regan said of the activity: “We are delighted to have been able to bring this idea to life. The high-precision technology involved in making it happen has some real parallels to our latest razor, the Gillette Fusion ProGlide. We were also keen to show our support for Roger at such an important tournament and alongside our facebook fans we think there is no better way to do it.”
To see the video of Gillette’s biggest ever shave being created, head to HYPERLINK “http://www.facebook.com/GilletteUK” www.facebook.com/GilletteUK.