The great epic of the father of Félix Auger-Aliassime


NEW YORK | Sam Aliassime learned the basics of tennis on the courts that belonged to the hotel where his father worked. “Of course it was for the customers, not the kids. But we were invited to play! “

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Between Mr. Aliassime and tennis there is a love story that has always lasted. However, in his home country of Togo, it is football that generally makes hearts vibrate.

“In Africa we were a strange family because we played tennis, he told al Tree trunk. I played soccer, but I wasn’t terrible. When I realized I wasn’t going to get far, I converted to tennis. “

He thought about making a career out of his racket. As a player, of course. It didn’t work, but it made its mark in other ways.

Because, some four decades later, Mr. Aliassime is now the owner of the academy that bears his name, at the Club Avantage de Québec. And he is also (or above all?) Father of Félix, the eighth player in the world, who he coached until the age of 14.

Sam Aliassime’s story is a story of resilience and passion. When he arrived in Quebec 26 years ago, there was no indication that he would be able to carve out a place in this discipline.

A coach in Togo offered his help to the Quebec and Canadian federations in his early years in the country, he said. His offer was refused.

However, when he flew over Montreal for the first time, Mr. Aliassime thought he had found the right shoe for him.

“It was afternoon,” he explained. From the window I saw the fields of the Stade Jarry. As soon as we landed, I looked for them everywhere. ”

Mr. Aliassime and his son Félix, during the 2016 Holidays.

Photo taken from Instagram

Mr. Aliassime and his son Félix, during the 2016 Holidays.

Coaches in the parks

Gradually, the adoptive Quebecer discovered that his new compatriots also played tennis in the parks.

While his wife was at work at that time, he went there with snowshoes in hand, his little Malika in the stroller. It was there that he began giving free classes to young people in Henri-Julien Park, in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville district of Montreal.

“That’s why I will never say no to a child today. In my academy, if you want to play, you have your place, “she said.

Her talent reached the ears of a player, who asked him if he could replace her in Longueuil, where she was giving lessons, while on vacation.

In Quebec in spite of himself

Since then, Sam Aliassime has never stopped training. His path also took him through Repentigny, before ending up in Quebec to straighten out a troubled club.

“I arrived in Quebec in spite of myself. I didn’t want to go there. There weren’t many immigrants at the time, “she stressed.

“I knew my bosses were pretty cheap. I told them, “I can go if you give me $ 5,000 more, because my wife won’t have a job and I have my two children.” “

But his leaders accepted and, little by little, Felix’s father settled in Quebec. A city he would never leave today, he said with a smile.

It was there that he began to train his younger brother more seriously. And that he started working with Jacques Hérisset and Jacques Bordeleau, before they sold their academy to him four years ago.

By purchasing the tennis school, the coach wanted to establish his mentality there. The same one that he instilled in his son before leaving for the National Training Center in Montreal at 14.

“I wanted to bring a new vision, to aim higher,” he explained. I also wanted to get the players out, get them to play internationally. “

Félix Auger-Aliassime during his Monday match in Flushing Meadows.

Photo: AFP

Félix Auger-Aliassime during his Monday match in Flushing Meadows.

projects and pride

Today the Aliassime Academy welcomes not only local players, but also from abroad. Satisfied with the structure he has put in place, he believes he could outlive him if he decides to get involved in new projects.

Because he has his head full of ideas. He wants to give back, happy and proud of the path he has traveled. He will travel to Africa in October to start a project he calls Africa teamwhich aims to support players from the continent to college.

A plan to which Félix could also contribute financially when it is launched, because “he believes very much”, Aliassime underlined.

“Whenever I do a project, he gets on board. When he bought his house in France, he told me that there were a lot of rooms and that it was for my little ones [de l’Académie]if they needed it, ”the father proudly emphasized.

Go back through the front door

When Félix was 14, his father, Sam Aliassime, wanted him to participate in the US Open. For him to see the best players in action, in the hope that they inspire him to achieve the goal that both of them had set for themselves.

One morning, Mr. Aliassime left New Jersey with the aim of arriving at the ticket office at 5am. He didn’t open until 9 am, but he didn’t want to take any chances.

Except that, to his surprise, there was already a long line of amateurs waiting for the inauguration as well. And when he finally got to the counter, around noon, more bad news awaited him.

“The remaining tickets were $ 250,” he says. And I was no longer working at that time. My place had just closed. So I said to myself: “Okay, I sacrifice myself, I’ll buy tickets for my two children”. “

But he had promised himself one thing: the next time he entered the US Open, someone would open the door and walk him to his seat.

Two years later, Felix won the junior title at Flushing Meadows.

“There we had a very good reception in the final. They opened the door for us! “

dad on vacation

Also this time Sam Aliassime entered through the front door, with his credit on his neck which reads: “Accompagnateur de Félix Auger-Aliassime”.

He is on vacation in New York after a busy summer training young people at his academy.

But when you are also a tennis fan, it is difficult to stay away from the courts. Especially when our son is training there.

Il Giornale then met with Mr. Aliassime last Saturday. Leaning against one of the railings of the stairs leading to the stands, he watched his first protege as he hit the balls.

Sam Aliassime then claims to be here “as a father and as a coach”. Because analyzing Félix’s practices from above allows him to have a different perspective from that of his coach, Frédéric Fontang.

“I stand higher and see things we don’t perceive on the ground. I share my vision with Fred and it allows us to keep an eye on Felix’s progress. “

No shortcuts

And how is this progression of the sixth favorite in New York going? Because dad has always been clear: he believes in his son’s chances of winning a Grand Slam, of being number 1 in the world one day.

“He is doing well. She does things at her own pace. But I’m very happy, ”says Sam Aliassime.

My wish is that when we make the point at the end of his career, he will be fine. Boris Becker, won Roland-Garros at 17 and is in prison today. Because sometimes, when we want too much, we take shortcuts. “

“It is not good. When it comes [les titres et le premier rang], it will be the right time. “


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