I mentioned at the end of my previous post that, after my time spent with Daniel Nestor, I’d love to try to get in touch with other Canadian tennis stars before my next tournament in the middle of December. I could use a little more help fixing my game for a tournament that will double as the end(?) of the monthly portion of this blog.
Well, that worked out nicely.
On the same day that I was able to sit down with Denis Shapovalov, I was also able to get some time with Vasek Pospisil. Both players were at the Hotel X in Toronto for a charity exhibition match in support of the LIGHTS foundation.
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Here are my main takeaways from my interviews and brief unofficial chats with both guys.
Denis Shapovalov is unfailingly polite. I’m going to sound like my grandma, but hell, I am 14 years older than him.
Denis really is a nice, young man.
I’ve always thought that hockey players were the friendliest group of athletes to interview, but the Canadian tennis players I’ve interviewed over the past year has me re-thinking that designation.
The fact that Denis is so grounded and–pardon the cliche–has a good head on his shoulders really sets him up for a long and successful tennis career. His attitude will allow him to power through the ebbs and flows of professional tennis. And it really is the mental game that separates the wheat from the chaff when you’re talking about the best players in the world.
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Also, Denis was very thoughtful with his answers to my questions. That might not seem like much, however, I was the fifth interview Denis had in a span of about 30 minutes. And I’m sure all of the interviews touched on very similar topics. It can’t be easy being pulled in all different directions, especially as a teenager, but Denis seems to be handling the increased media scrutiny effortlessly.
As for Vasek Pospisil, I had no idea he has such a great sense of humour. Change our conversation from a TV interview to a bar and I could definitely see the two of us having a couple of beers sometime (if one of us, you know, wasn’t a professional tennis player).
Vasek was supposed to play against Denis in the charity match, but he has been dealing with some back issues and couldn’t play due to injury. But it was great to see that he was still at the event to support the charity and completed all of the media obligations as though he was still playing.
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It was a fun conversation and it was cool to get a glimpse behind the curtain of what it’s like to be a professional tennis player.
In terms of my tennis career, my ranking is still sitting in the 280s as I get ready to return to the scene of my first tournament from last December. My game is so much better than it was a year ago at this time. I actually know how to serve now (the on-court session with Daniel Nestor really has been the catalyst to giving me a better serve) and I’ve really worked on making my groundstrokes more consistent.
Unfortunately, I just haven’t been able to play more than once a week since the outdoor season ended. And I know for a fact–thanks to Vasek–that most serious players are spending at least four hours a day either in the gym or on court. I’m lucky right now to get an hour a week on court and a hour a day in the gym.
I still have three or four more on-court sessions before the start of the tournament and I hope I can continue to sharpen my skills until then and put on a better performance than I did last year.
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