Australian pro has given Tennis Canada a boost

GEORGE GROSS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:00 PM ET

A Canadian tennis player -- male or female -- has about as much of a chance to win next month's Australian Open as I would have of winning Wimbledon.

This doesn't mean that there is no tennis talent in Canada -- even if on the streets we have to fight snow, ice and sleet. The noticeable improvement in Canada's over-the-webbing sport is mainly due to the work of Australian tennis pro Bob Brett.

Now, Brett is not just any kind of a tennis teacher. The tennis professor from Down Under has worked with no lesser a talent than Boris Becker, once the world's No. 1 player and twice Wimbledon champion; also with Goran Ivanisevic, once ranked No. 2 in the world and Nicolas Kiefer, who climbed as high as fourth in the world.

Brett was signed by Michael Downey, president of Tennis Canada, who is now recuperating in hospital following surgery and who is determined to have a Canadian player climb high on the international tennis ladder.

"I come to Canada about eight times a year, each time for 5-17 days," Brett told me the other day. "I'm mainly working with young prospects thanks to a mentoring program and by sending messages to other Canadian coaches. We are trying to implement psychology into the young players' game.

"I'm very pleased with the progress of Frank Dancevic, who had a very good stabilizing year and got into the top 100. For instance, he played extremely well in Indianapolis where he beat Andy Roddick and, in his match against the world's No. 2 player Rafael Nadal, Dancevic won the first set. He is still young as far as tennis age is concerned and can improve even more."

Brett is also encouraged by the talent of young Peter Polansky, who bounced back after an accident when he fell sleepwalking and it is a credit to his character that he won three $10,000 challenger events. Brett concluded by saying:

"Canadians have very talented players in various sports and there is no reason why they can't have them in tennis -- male or female."

Racketlon anyone?

A father-daughter combination will represent Canada in the 2008 Racketlon World Championship in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Dave Fernando and his 16-year-old daughter Piumika will try to medal in the Racketlon world championships, a sport they fell in love with.

But, what on earth is Racketlon, I asked Fernando?

"Racketlon is a sport in which a player challenges his or her opponent in each of four racket sports -- table tennis, badminton, squash and tennis," explained Fernando.

"The sport is known as a cousin of triathlon and decathlon and the first international Racketlon competition was held in 2001. Since then the growth of the game has been exponential, reaching almost 300% in the last three years.

"The final winner of a Racketlon match is not the one who wins most matches but the one who scores most points in total."

The tournament will be organized by the International Racketlon Federation, but I don't think I'll be competing.

DISA AND DATA

Canada will face Mexico in a Davis Cup tie at the Calgary Corral February 8-10, 2008. The Canadian team is expected to have Dancevic, Polanski, Daniel Nestor, and Fred Niemayer wearing the maple leaf colours...CBC-TV will take a two hour candid look at the life and tragic end of Victor Davis, Canada's Olympic swimming champion and world record holder at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. The date of the special is January 13 at 8 p.m ... Canada's national volleyball team downed India 3-0 to finish in fifth place of the Standing Volleyball World Cup in Phnom Penh, Cambodia ... Canada's national junior team (Under 20) will conduct a five-day training camp in Salzburg, Austria, December 15-19 ... French sports minister Bernard Laporte made a pitch for the 2016 European Soccer Championship ... The Royal Canadian Golf Association is holding a sale of exclusive museum-quality collectibles until December 16. A complete list of the golf collectibles can be accessed at www.cghf.org. Trudy Eagen, former director and corporate secretary of Sun Media, has sent in $500 for the Sun Variety Village Christmas Fund and the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment PR Staff added $300 to this week's total. Many thanks to all donors.


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