Fiery Frankie goes to Hollyburn -- and wins a Thursday thriller
Dancevic drained dad's pocketbook early and often to become elite Canadian
Frank Dancevic of Niagara Falls, Ont., dug deep Thursday night to win a thrilling match at the Odlum Brown VanOpen. The 28-year-old Canadian ace is trilled to be back playing after some injury problems slowed his promising pro career.
Photograph by: Darryl Dyck, The Canadian Press Files
WEST VANCOUVER - For Frank Dancevic, there was no early morning hockey practices in Niagara Falls. Six a.m.? Who had time for that?
Not little Frank. He had something better to do, like tennis practice at 5 a.m. He played hockey as a young lad and soccer, too. But tennis was his game and the only way he could get court time was to beat the members into the White Oaks Tennis Club. At 5 a.m., there was no competition. So he and dad John would set their alarms and head out before the crack of dawn.
“I remember those early mornings with my dad,” Dancevic, 28, recalled Thursday prior to his exciting 7-6, 5-7, 7-6 (9) second-round victory over German Benjamin Becker at the $200,000 Odlum Brown VanOpen. “We would show up and the janitors would leave the door open for us. We’d practise for a few hours and then I’d go to school. There was no other time we could practise because the members would take the courts in the afternoon.
“So me and my dad would be out there. He’d be feeding me balls and doing the best he could. He never played tennis – he played soccer semi-professionally – but he knew what it took to stay focused and do certain things. We did that from the time I was 11 to probably 14 or 15.”
Of course, Dancevic did need some professional instruction so dad arranged for private lessons after school. By 8 p.m., Frank was in bed, getting ready to do it all over again the next morning.
“It was tough as a kid dedicating your life to one thing,” he noted. “It was quite a commitment that I needed to make. It’s not something most kids want to do, be in bed at 8 o’clock and wake up that early every morning to go and train to be better.
“Back then, it wasn’t like it is now. The kids coming up, I mean, it’s amazing what they have these days and it’s amazing to see how far Canadian tennis has come,” Dancevic said. “These kids have unbelievable facilities and training programs and most of it is covered by Tennis Canada. It’s really great to see.
“When I was growing up, I didn’t have that support. It all came out of my dad’s pocket. He put a lot on the line just to pay coaches and get me lessons so I could pursue my dream to become a pro tennis player one day.”
Dancevic became a teenage star and, eventually, the top-ranked Canadian during various periods of time in 2003, 2004 and 2005. He rose as high as No. 65 in the world on the ATP rankings in 2007 but has since tumbled because of a series of unfortunate events, particularly back surgery that sidelined him for virtually an entire year, from mid-2009 to mid-2010. He came to the VanOpen ranked No. 165.
“I’ve been playing on the tour for quite a long time and I’ve had my ups and downs,” said Dancevic, who is staying this week with former NHLer Paul Reinhart’s family.
“I’ve had some great moments and I’ve struggled with injuries and surgeries over the years. That’s all part of being a pro.
“I find the hardest part about being a professional is dealing with hard moments in your career and bouncing back and finding a way to overcome everything. You’ve lost your fitness, your conditioning, your confidence, your game and you just have to have the belief to start over again and work your way back.”
In the Vancouver market, Dancevic will forever be remembered for his tremendous Davis Cup victory over Spain’s Marcel Granollers – a dominant 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win in February at UBC that was the difference maker in Canada advancing to the quarter-finals. He called it one of the greatest matches of his career.
“Playing Davis Cup and for my country means a lot to me,” he said. “I was really happy that it came against the No. 1 team in the world and that it came right here in Canada.
“It was just one of those matches where I played at a really high level. It seemed to bring the best out of me and I was really, really pleased with my performance. It was quite an experience and probably the most memorable match of my career.”
Later in the evening, Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil faced American Bradley Klahn. Pospisil won the first set 6-4 and with Klahn up 2-1 in the second set the match was suspended because of rain. They will continue Friday.
NET NOTES: Two Canadian women – Sharon Fichman and Stephanie Dubois – advanced to Friday’s quarter-final round with straight set wins Thursday. Fichman knocked off Japanese qualifier Miharu Imanishi 6-2, 6-2 while Dubois upset third-seed Misaki Doi 6-1, 6-4 ... Fichman will face 42-year-old Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm, the No. 2 seed here.
For complete results and match schedule, see www.vanopen.com
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun