NEW YORK | The first time Sam Aliassime saw Granby Challenger champion Gabriel Diallo on Sunday, the powerful waiter was only 12 years old. But immediately the coach realized that there was something special about this young player.
Diallo was then in action in a youth tournament in Mont-Tremblant.
However, it took another two years for their paths to cross again.
And the rest is no stranger to the successes the Quebecer had last week.
“One day, I learned that Tennis Canada had banned him from the National Training Center,” says Mr. Aliassime. Gabriel is a young man who comes from afar. He wasn’t making much progress, but he was a fast growing boy. It was not easy for coordination, injuries. “
But Sam Aliassime believed in his talent. He then proposed to his parents that they transfer Diallo from Montreal to Quebec, so that they could train him.
Accommodation was also included – at the home of Félix’s father.
This is how for three years, until he entered the University of Kentucky, the 6’7 ”giant honed his tennis with Mr. Aliassime.
“I saw its potential,” says Sam. He worked a lot with Félix. He is like his brother. So I wanted to give him the same education, the same values as my son. “
“From the beginning, Sam saw that there was something to do with Gabriel, points out Jacques Hérisset, who is nicknamed ‘Monsieur tennis’ in Quebec and who is a good friend of Mr. Aliassime. Gabriel really followed his teachings to the letter, on and off the pitch. ”
The school of life
And, from the band, Diallo took advantage of Félix’s successes to hone his talent. He accompanied him to the prestigious Indian Wells tournament a few years ago to see how the pros work.
While Sam Aliassime wanted to help young Diallo improve his game, he also wanted to instill in him the education that would make him a good player. Or a good human being, if her hopes of making tennis his career were to vanish.
“Tennis prepares you for life”, believes the coach, who cites the organization and professionalism necessary for the practice of this sport.
And, he adds, “someone who is really messy in life will be really messy at work.”
When he met Le Journal, Sam Aliassime still had in mind this tasty anecdote about his debut with Diallo.
Without his water bottles
“When he lived with his parents, maybe his mother took too much care of him. At a game, he arrived without a bottle of water. I told him: “You need water, he prepares you for battle”. He never forgot to wear it again. ”
For now, the advice offered by Mr. Aliassime seems to be paying off. In his third Challenger tournament, the 20-year-old won his first professional title.
Diallo does not rule out playing in others this season. But faithful to the values that guide him, in the hours following this first triumph, Sam Aliassime warned his protégé about him.
I told him: ‘Tomorrow you go back to school, on the same desks as the others. You forget it and concentrate on your project. “At this age, you can easily lose your mind.”
And Diallo seems to listen well to the advice of his mentor. “The next step is to go back to school, the finance student said after his victory. I want to graduate. If the ATP doesn’t work, at least I can work in the bank! “
– With QMI Agency