Adrian Catahan heading for tennis big leagues
May 28th, 2021
Adrian Catahan, North Bay’s top tennis player, is heading for tennis fame and fortune and the road to turning pro is leading to Italy.
The 17-year-old started playing tennis with coach Fransua Rachmann 9 years ago at the North Bay Tennis Club and all the hard work has been paying off since he started playing tournaments only 4 years ago.
Rachmann recalls how Adrian got to his current level: “From the beginning Adrian just loved playing and being on court and he was always keen for 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. 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. The summers at the North Bay tennis club are great but during the winter we had to get creative to keep making progress. Without indoor tennis facilities in North Bay, we had to practice in school gyms with smooth hardwood floors that is not ideal for tennis. 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.”
Adrian’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.
Adrian’s 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 ahead:
“Adrian is a hard worker, and he has the tools to compete in tough matches. 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.”
With the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 and 2021 and Adrian’s junior career coming to an end soon, big decisions had to be made. One option for junior tennis players is always to look at opportunities south of the border and apply for tennis scholarships. The competition is strong since players from all over the world apply for the limited positions and financial help at top institutions in US universities and colleges.
Adrian has been in touch with several Division 1 and 2 schools in the to explore the opportunities that college or university tennis can offer him there. His tournament results and excellent academic record make him an ideal candidate for a scholarship. Adrian has the option of applying for admission for the fall semester for 2022 to different schools since the deadline for admission to the 2021 fall semester has already passed.
But waiting for another year to continue his tennis is a long time to wait for a player that is getting closer to the prime of his physical abilities. So, the Catahan family and Adrian’s coaches had to look at other options in the meantime to continue his improvement, so they started looking at options in Europe. Ease of travel, many great options for tennis academies and an abundance of tournaments of different levels make countries like, France, Spain, Germany and Italy a perfect destination for players that want to make tennis their career. After a lot of research one tennis academy seemed like a good fit and Adrian 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 specialising in getting young players ready for bigger tournaments, it is also a hub for existing professional ATP and WTA players to practice between tournaments, hone their skills or rehabilitate injuries.
The Tennis Academy has released the following statement:
The A.S.D. Tennis Academy of Bari is excited that the athlete Adrian Catahan has chosen our school in September 2021 to continue his Professional Training. Adrian will train where several players with ATP qualification train, such as:
1. Andrea Pellegrino 230 ATP;
2. Daniela Vismane 500 WTA;
3. Emiliano Maggioli 600 ATP;
4. Oleksandr Ovcharenko 870 ATP;
Adrian's training and activities is carried out by the Italian Tennis Federation. Adrian's training will be held by the technicians, coaches, physical trainers, physiotherapy, osteopathy, mental training, and nutritionist. Adrian will reside at the " University Camps X" located in Bari (Italy) (agreement with the A.S.D. Academia Tennis).
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. The schedule in Bari will be tough since there will be 5 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 the Saturday is scheduled.”
One of the biggest adjustments from playing full time in Canada compared to countries in Europe is that the main surface to play tennis on there is red clay courts, while there is only a hand full of clay courts in the whole of Canada, and very few of those are red clay. Although the academy in Italy has some hard courts, it will be an adjustment to play mostly on red clay courts.
“I am looking forward to the challenge of playing and competing on this surface. I played only 9 tournaments on clay over the past 4 years and have not had a lot of opportunities to practice on clay, but I think I adjust pretty well to the surface since I took home the trophy home 7 times in those 9 tournaments”
With provincial lockdowns in place, Adrian is not practicing on court as much as he should be, but he still works hard on preparing for the physical challenges that playing on clay and hard courts for up to 6 hours a day will offer.
“Until May 22 I was not playing on court, but I’ve been really concentrating on my fitness as much as I can since the start of the lockdown. During the lockdown I usually did 2 training sessions a day doing cardio, strength and speed training during the week. I feel like I am getting stronger and I have grown taller during the past year so I have to make sure that I work out the right way to be able to keep up with the rigorous training and that I don’t get injured from the high impact of playing every day. Now that I’m back on court, coach Fransua and I are working together again like before here in North Bay to keep increasing my speed and consistency so I’ll be ready for Italy.”
Adrian will leave for Italy towards 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.
Coach Rachmann can not be prouder of his student: “I won’t be able to help him with his Italian, that will be his mother’s job with her Italian roots. But if he learns as fast off court as on court, he’ll be just fine. Adrian soaks up information incredibly fast and are able to apply a new technique, concept or game plan almost immediately in a match or tournament after being introduced to it in practice. You seldom see someone that is this keen to practice, put in a lot of hours on and off court and have such a cool head during matches. And with his fitness regime that we have been working on since the very beginning, he has the physical ability to do that full time. Practicing in Toronto and being exposed to high level players almost every day for a year made a big difference in his game. Being in an environment where you get exposed to players that hit harder and more consistently than you on a daily basis is the only way to improve as a junior and Adrian was quickly able to not only keep up with the other players in Gary Muller’s training group, but outplay them in practice and matches after a few months there. Unfortunately, with our weather and seasonal facilities we can not offer Adrian the same quality and variety of hitting partners throughout the year. I am happy that he can continue his tennis journey in Italy and extremely proud of him and everything that he has accomplished. He has overcome a lot of odds to be where he is now. If he can keep improving like he has over the past few years, there is no doubt in my mind that he’ll be able to get some good results in amateur adult tournaments in Europe. From there it is still a big step to go pro, regardless of the environment he is playing in; full time tennis in Italy, or through university tennis in the States. But turning pro has always been Adrian’s goal, and I believe he’ll be able to do it.”