Thunder Bay – SPORTS – The Force Tennis Academy is a high-performance tennis program offered for the first time in Thunder Bay at the Thunder Bay Community Tennis Centre. This elite program gives young tennis athletes the opportunity to excel and develop their tennis skills. The goal of the program is to prepare athletes for the mental, emotional, and physical demands of tennis training and competition.
First Year Thunder Bay Tennis pro Brendan Boudreau is ecstatic about the new program. “This program has the potential to grow the sport of tennis in Thunder Bay and the Region,” stated an exuberant Boudreau. “I am excited about a program that will take our athletes to the next level and help them compete locally, provincially and continue their tennis careers into the future,” added Boudreau. Boudreau, who attended St Scholastica to play college tennis, knows first-hand the benefits that come from having a group of elite athletes to practice with regularly. This was an opportunity he experienced when indoor tennis was available in Thunder Bay.
This program provides specialized high-level training on and off court. The mandate of the program is to prepare athletes holistically. The training sessions combine on the court tennis skill development, and off-court aerobic training and workshops on nutrition and mental preparation.
One of the many strengths of the program is the strong coaching staff. Jamie Grieve has coached a variety of athletes for 22 years in Thunder Bay, Galin Nizortchev, a top ranked Canadian youth player, has 4 years of experience coaching at Carleton University, Ysabel Nunez played NCAA Division 1 tennis at South Dakota and has coached in Oakville, Brad Kirkham who played at Florida Tech and recently was coaching in Burlington and Brendan Boudreau, a Club Pro 1 Instructor, has been coaching for more than 10 years in Thunder Bay.
“Our test trial year went very well. The academy is a first of its kind in Thunder Bay” stated Force Academy coach Galin Nizortchev. “As coaches we are proud to see that the athletes have been able to overcome the obstacles presented by a global pandemic to improve their games and bring it to the next level, Force Tennis Academy and its athletes have had tremendous positive growth in the past couple of months,” added Nizortchev.
Sixteen-year-old Anna Turner loved her experience this summer with the Force Academy. “I improved a lot over the course of the season. I feel more confident in my hitting and serving. It has allowed me to hit harder and more accurately. Force also helped to improve my footwork,” stated Turner. “I want to play tennis in University. This program prepares me for that. I can’t wait for next season,” added Turner.
“I love Force Academy and it has helped me a ton. The coaches are really positive and encouraging- they have really helped me with my serve and my tennis tactics,” said 12-year-old Kaz Kitchener. “I have really improved my overall game!” added Kitchener.
The academy is wrapping up its first season this weekend with plans for next year already being discussed by the FTA organizing committee. Next year the academy will look to expand its on-court training while continuing with sport-specific dryland sessions. The plan, co-vid permitting, is to attend out-of-town tournaments as a team. According to Nizortchev, “We can’t wait until next season to play even more tournaments and show the necessary results that reflect the hard work being put in by the athletes.”