NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Lipscomb tennis player Philippe Courteau was offered a unique opportunity to enhance his skills this summer.
Courteau spent nine days in Montreal, in his native Quebec, as one of the top players in the country selected by Tennis Canada to serve as hitting partners for the women competing in the Rogers Cup.
“Luckily, I made the cut,” Courteau said. “I was very grateful for the opportunity. Our objective was to give the best practice possible for the players so they could perform to their highest potential.”
A typical day for Courteau started at 8 a.m. and ended around 10:30 p.m. or later. Some days he would work 10 hitting sessions. He played between six and eight hours a day.
“In the beginning we were matched randomly with players but if they liked you, and the way you played, they could request you,” Courteau said. “I was lucky to have most of my players request me for the whole week. Simona Halep, Kristina Kucova, Elina Svitolina and Sabine Lisicki were the players I spent the most time with.”
Courteau’s job was to help the players be at the top of their games, but he made steps to improve his game style as well.
“Tennis-wise I had been working on moving forward and taking the ball early,” Courteau said. “Nobody does that better than the top women pros, so it was a great opportunity to practice that and try to get better at it.
“I also learned much about the discipline it takes to make it as a world class athlete. Some of the players would have a 45-minute warm up for a 30-minute hit. They did everything possible to prepare their bodies for the practice.”
Halep helped Courteau with his mental approach to the game. Halep is the No. 3 women’s player in the world. She won the tournament.
“The biggest lesson I learned was to have fun and enjoy tennis,” Courteau said. “Simona Halep was a player I had the opportunity to practice with all week.
“She works really hard. She is an incredible tennis player, but she and her team always found a way to make the environment enjoyable. The practices with her were a lot of fun, but they were also very difficult.”
Lipscomb men’s tennis coach Mario Hernandez was happy to see Courteau have the chance to work with top flight players and coaches.
“For the program, and for Philippe, it is only a positive to train with professionals and to experience their professionalism directly,” Hernandez said. “Philippe has always been a hard worker who is passionate, and knowledgeable about the game. This experience will only enhance those qualities but, more importantly, will provide great memories that will last with him forever.”