One thing to be said about Team NT’s Canada Summer Games tennis team that will play in Ontario in August: they know what they will be up against and they aren’t afraid to say it.
The six players — three boys and three girls, all from Yellowknife — will be competing during the first week of the Games in Niagara Region. They were selected following a training camp earlier this month at the Yellowknife Tennis Club, under the watchful eye of head coach Jan Martinek and assistant coach Tamara Jovic.
Martinek, who also coached Team NT at the 2019 Western Canada Summer Games in Saskatchewan, said he knows it will be a tough test for his players.
“All of the provinces will be there and they’ll be taking it a bit more seriously,” he said. “Mostly, it will be about the kids representing the NWT in a way that we want it to be seen. If we’re winning by a lot or losing by a lot, keep the same composure, don’t mess around and make sure everyone sees the NWT as the team that we can be.”
There’s no misunderstanding what the NWT athletes will be facing when they hit the court, he added.
“They’re going to be going up against kids who are playing in about 20 tournaments in a year,” he said. “I haven’t necessarily been telling our kids that they’ll be at a disadvantage, but just make them aware of the fact that not being able to practice on real courts during the winter definitely adds to the level (of competition) that they will experience.”
That winter court time happened at the Fieldhouse, where the players got some time on the turf.
“Touches on the ball, being able to feel the ball on the strings — that’s never a bad thing,” said Martinek. “But it’s on artificial turf, not hardcourt, so the ball bounces differently and the timing is different. Hardcourt is faster and turf slows the ball down.”
Tennis will be contested in a team format and all of the results will go toward a score for each match-up. Each player will engage in at least one singles match and one doubles match in each head-to-head match. The schedule isn’t out yet but it’s most likely that the NWT will be in Preliminary Pool C, where they will have two head-to-head contests. If they hope to qualify for the quarter-final, they’ll have to do that by beating a team from Preliminary Pool B once the standings are finalized for the playoffs.
Now that the Games seem to be a reality, barring any major viral outbreak, the excitement is starting to build for Joseph Curran, who makes up part of the boys side.
He said he can’t wait to play in his first Canada Summer Games.
“I’m getting excited and really glad to see that things are starting to take shape,” he said. “I’ve always been optimistic about sports coming back and I’m just glad that I can get an opportunity to go to such a major event.”
Teresa Martin is also making her Canada Summer Games debut.
She said she’s eager to take on players from around the country.
“I’m really looking forward to that,” she said. “At Arctic Winter Games (in 2018), there were less participants and less teams, but getting to do this is really exciting.”
It’s all sight unseen for these athletes, and Martin said she’s approaching each match the way she knows how.
“Stick to what I know, stick to what I’ve been learning these past few years and have a good time,” she said.
Canada Summer Games tennis team (all from Yellowknife)
Source: Tennis NWT