Team manager Dominic Labelle is excited about the future of the program
Last year, Concordia’s tennis team had a disappointing season as both their men’s and women’s teams finished last in their respective divisions. This year, however, team manager and women’s coach Dominic Labelle believes both teams can bounce back, and are poised to have a great year.
“My goal for the girls is to not only make the provincial championships, but be on the top of the rankings for the whole season,” Labelle said. “For the guys, the goal is to definitely make the playoffs and remain in the top four in the league. We’re ready to produce some really good results this season.”
Labelle, who coached both teams last year, is getting help from former men’s team player Roger Hernandez, who has stepped up to coach the men for this season. Labelle said Hernandez already has a tight bond with his players, and that everyone is committed to having a successful year.
On Sept. 17, 31 men and 10 women showed up to the open tryouts, vying for a spot on the squad. Labelle said that many of his players from last year were guaranteed spots on the team, which left only a few positions open for those who came to the tryouts.
Labelle is happy with his new players, adding that, on the women’s side, he has recruited three new players. One of those players is Brazilian Rafaela Panizza who has played in professional tournaments.
“Two of the players who joined on the women’s team come from the States. They had scholarships there so it’s great. They increase the level of our team,” Labelle said. “The other player has one [World Tennis Association (WTA)] point so it’s amazing because, for us, it’s great exposure. It helps to grow our level [of competitiveness].”
The tennis season only starts in January, but according to Labelle, both teams are already training as if the season were in full swing. Before the start of the season, the teams train twice a week for 11 weeks straight in order to get in shape.
Labelle said, in addition to practices, the team has added a new component to their training, thanks to a sponsorship with a company called FitLikeQ. The company will provide the team with consultations as well as training plans in order to improve the team’s physical fitness.
“They will help us the whole 30 weeks of the season,” Labelle said. “If anybody has questions when it comes to training or needs rehab for an injury, they’ll be there. It’s nice because they will help us stay fit and [get to our] peak during our matches.”
In addition to the new training program, Labelle and his team are excited about the prospect of being part of the Stingers family. Since the team’s inception in March 2011, the program has been self-sufficient, and is not considered a varsity or club team. This means the team pays for their own uniforms and has always had to look for sponsorships outside of the university.
Labelle said that the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) is considering adding tennis to its official list of sports due to more universities sporting their own teams. As a result of this possibility, Labelle will be meeting with Stingers associate director John Bower to discuss the potential of allowing the tennis team to dawn the trademark “C” as well as the maroon and gold Stingers colours.
“Players will get more into it if they feel they represent the school,” Labelle said.
For Labelle, being a Concordia team is nice but being a part of the Stingers would give the team more legitimacy and get them to the next level.
“For me getting that logo would be a box to check off because it’s my fourth year with the team,” Labelle added.
Before the season starts in January, the men’s team will play an exhibition tournament against the École de Technologie Supérieure on Oct. 9. Labelle said the team is also in the midst of scheduling men’s and women’s matches against the Université de Sherbrooke for Oct. 8.