Tourney helps juniors ease into pro tennis

MARK KEAST -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:17 AM ET

Tennis Canada is pumping more money and effort into developing international tennis champions through a new high-performance strategy, and some of that talent was on display at the Rexall Centre yesterday.

Philip Bester of Vancouver and Peter Polansky of Thornhill, both 17, have been identified as two of the top younger players in which Tennis Canada is investing.

Both are making the transition to the pros from juniors by taking part in pro events such as Canada F1 Futures, which is going on through Sunday. Tournaments such as this allow the two to build up ATP world ranking points and prize money while playing at home, Tennis Canada vice-president Hatem McDadi said.

Take Polansky, for example. High school is being covered off through online courses. Bester is doing the same thing, so he can focus more on an intense tennis regimen. Polansky said he will be training and playing in events such as this one through February, along with taking advantage of the best coaching Tennis Canada has to offer. "It's pretty intense," he said.

Bester attends the well-known Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida, part of the stable of IMG Academies.

HAD TO LEAVE

"In my situation, I couldn't develop beyond a certain point in Canada, so we had to make the decision to go to Florida and develop there," he said. "To be able to train and compete with the top juniors in the world, chasing the same dream every day, dedicating so many hours of their time training so hard -- that's the environment.

"There isn't as much support around tennis in Canada, financially," he said. "There are some great facilities where juniors can develop, some great coaches. But from my view point, there needs to be more individual attention. There needs to be somebody by someone's side, and you need more financial support to make that happen."

Tennis Canada's strategy is to change that.

Bester beat the No. 1 seed, Italy's Fabio Colangelo, on Tuesday, and is scheduled to play Fabrice Martin of France today. Polansky was knocked out yesterday in singles, losing 6-4, 6-2 to German Benjamin Becker.

Polansky and Bester have teamed up in the doubles category and play today against the team of Colangelo and fellow Italian Stefano Ianni.

Next week, the $25,000 Tevlin Challenger -- featuring top female juniors such as Canadians Aleksandra Wozniak and Sharon Fichman -- will be held at the Rexall Centre.


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