With no sanctioned Tennis Manitoba tournaments, it’s been a challenging summer for some of our top junior players such as Stefan Barré and Gabriella Rzeszutek.

“It’s been tough in the sense that the hard work that was put in during the offseason was not able to be transferred to tournaments,” said Barré.

“I had plans to go over to the Czech Republic this summer to train and compete. These plans were derailed as a result. Nationals was another opportunity that was canceled and these were big excitements for me going into the summer.”

But these players have taken advantage of the down time to work on their craft. Rzeszutek has taken the time to play matches against players she normally wouldn’t get to play with.

“I play tennis almost every day, either training or playing matches. During training, I try to expand my tennis by practicing different shots and improving areas that I have trouble with,” Rzeszutek said.

“When I play matches I try to execute the things that I have learned in practice. I find that playing
matches is very different than training as in a match you are faced with factors that can change
your game and how you play.”

While Rzeszutek misses playing competitively at tournaments, she’s thankful that the government allowed tennis activities as early as they did. Not all sports were so lucky.

“When I am training, I think that it is nice having a distraction from the negative news. But I also
feel like here in Manitoba we are lucky since we haven’t been affected as much as other places
in Canada.” Rzeszutek said.

“I think that playing tennis has given me something to do while staying safe. I was
able to resume tennis around May, which was quite early comparing to other sports. This helped
me to get out and slowly come out from being quarantined for so long.”

These two may be junior players, but clearly, they’re already wise beyond their years.

“I have learned that in crisis you can always find a positive. Even though tournaments are canceled and travel is banned there are other things you can do to continue to improve,”  Barré said.

“I have become stronger mentally through this whole process, learning that everyone is in this same global boat: you have to play the cards you’re dealt, find a way to progress and move forward, controlling the controllable. That’s all any of us can do.”