The North Bay Tennis Club's top player is heading overseas to pursue a professional tennis career in Italy joining a tennis academy.
Adrian Catahan is a 17-year-old who started playing tennis with coach Fransua Rachmann nine years ago at the North Bay Tennis Club and all the hard work has been paying off since he started playing tournaments only four years ago.
Right from the start, Rachmann says Catahan showed a passion for tennis and was always keen on competition.
"Over the past few years, we have been working hard on his technique, fitness and footwork and the results in tournaments comes from many hours on the practice court," said Rachmann.
"During the summers he would hang around the club just looking for a game or for a moment when I’m not busy with other lessons so I can hit with him. Or drag his dad out to hit with him early in the morning or late at night. He also always helped out with beginner group lessons and summer camps and he is a great role model for the other junior players at the club.
Rachmann notes they got creative when figuring out ways to train here during the winter months.
"Without indoor tennis facilities in North Bay, we had to practice in school gyms with smooth hardwood floors that is not ideal for tennis," said Rachmann.
"We had to practice in my garage at my house to keep up his fitness and skills as much as possible and then on weekends we drove 2 hours to Sudbury to get some indoor court time and get him ready for tournaments in Toronto for the next weekend.”
Catahan’s win/loss record of 130-56 between 2017 and 2020 in junior and adult tournaments shows that all this dedication and hard work from coach and player paid off.
His success caught the eye of former professional tennis player Gary Muller. Muller, who turned pro in 1985 had some big wins over world number 1 players like Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and Stefan Edberg during his singles career and reached a high of number 8 in the world in doubles, saw the potential in Adrian and in 2019 Adrian joined Gary Muller’s tennis academy in Toronto.
Muller sees a big future for the North Bay product.
“Adrian is a hard worker, and he has the tools to compete in tough matches," said Muller.
"But as the level gets higher the guys just hit harder and harder and during the year before the COVID 19 lockdown were working on fine-tuning his body and his strokes to keep up with these increased speeds. He must constantly play against guys that are better than him and I had a group of players that all had the same goals of playing university and professional tennis and Adrian fit right in. He is always up for a challenge and even if he loses a match, he is positive and wants to play the same player again as soon as possible to see if he can do better and find a way to win.”
Catahan applied and got accepted into the ATB Accademia Tennis Bari based in Bari on the east coast of Italy. This tennis academy is not only specializing in getting young players ready for bigger tournaments, but it is also a hub for existing professional ATP and WTA players to practice between tournaments, hone their skills or rehabilitate injuries.
Adrian can’t wait for the next chapter in his tennis career to start.
“I’m most excited about heading to another country to train alongside future ATP players against existing ATP players," he said.
"The schedule in Bari will be tough since there will be five days of training a week and over weekends there will be tournaments to play. On the odd weekends where there are no tournaments, an extra day of training on Saturday is scheduled.”
Adrian will leave for Italy toward the end of the summer.
He will practice and play there and then make the decision whether to accept his scholarship in the USA in a few months or keep playing tournaments on a full-time basis. For the time being, he has to keep practicing in North Bay, play tournaments in Toronto (when they do start up again) and brush up on his Italian.