Walker Lamarche
Head Coach Futures and Champions Teams ACE Burlington
Tennis Canada Coach 2
Players in the Futures Team are 6-7 years of age. It is the first level in the competitive stream where players start competing in tournaments.

What are the requirements for joining the Futures Team?
Enthusiasm and commitment are the two most important things for me. Athleticism and prior knowledge of fundamentals from Mini Tennis programs are also tools that will enable the young player to properly progress through the Futures team program and then onwards in the competitive stream.

You were Head Coach of the Mini Tennis Team before this, what is the difference between the Mini Tennis Team program and this level in the competitive stream?
In terms of content Mini Tennis focuses primarily on fundamentals. Tactics will be introduced throughout the different cycles, but the teaching points will always come back to fundamentals. Proper on court behaviour, and training habits will also be a main focus in the Mini Tennis program, whereas in the Futures Team we hope these habits have been developed, but will be more thoroughly reinforced. 

You have a reputation of having great discipline over the kids? How do you think you achieve this?
Making sure the kids have trust in their coach is a big part of being able to properly control a group.
Constant reinforcement on positive behaviour and immediate consequence if negative behaviour is repeated. It’s also important that kids see tennis as a game, if they start to have fun and enjoy themselves on court they will be determined to work hard and to do better. 

What about tournaments; this is the program where most of them start playing tournaments.
Tell us about that process?
In general; tournaments should be started as soon as the child expresses interest! The process always begins with registering your child on the OTA website. After that, have a conversations with the coach as to what level of tournament would be best for the player. It is important to not put too much pressure on the tournament experience, but help the player see that it can be fun, whether they win or lose. Playing in easier tournaments helps the young player gain confidence alone on the court. Players can either play a U9/U10 Rogers Rookie event or a Future Stars event. The Rookie events are not ranked whereas Future Stars events have rankings which begin at the start of each year and end in December. Futures Team players will have the opportunity to play many more tournaments once May comes around, as ACE will start hosting more U9 tournaments during spring and summer months.
Because the kids are so young, the involvement of the parents are perhaps greater at this stage than at the more advanced stages, talk to us about your relationship with the parents and how you see their roles?
I try my best to be clear with them about the required proper behaviour and to make sure they are informed about what is best moving forward for their child. My main belief is that the parent needs to be there as a support system; to always make the player feel good after a lesson or a match. Help your child understand what was worked on in the lesson in a positive way ie “can you show me the new grip you learned?”. If a parent is not sure about the content, a coach will always be happy to explain to them after class so that they can understand themselves.

At this age do many of them practice other sports as well. Is this recommended?
Sport was a part of my life. I always enjoyed playing other sports along with tennis. Playing other sports helps teach the fundamental athletic skills like agility, balance, coordination, speed and strength. The child will learn new skills and proper behaviour from other role models as well. Tennis is an individual sport and there tends to be a lot of learning involved, so allowing kids to compete with their friends on teams helps develop social skills and a love for competition.