BRADENTON, Fla. – You can’t exactly call them snowbirds, because they only hit Florida long enough to prepare the season – and then chase the sun the rest of the year.
But the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. always has a full complement of Canadian players this time of the season.
It definitely beats the weather at home, no matter what part of Canada you come from.
Canadian No. 2 Denis Shapovalov first spent some time decompressing and training at his tax residence in the Bahamas, and hit Bradenton with a big crew about a week ago.
On hand are new coach Rob Steckley and mom/coach Tessa. Even his junior coach, Adriano Fuorivia, showed up in an Instagram pic at IMG a few days ago.
Félix in Florida
Arriving at about the same time was his pal Félix Auger-Aliassime, who is having his first preseason at the IMG Academy. A year ago, the then-17-year-old Auger-Aliassime was in Dubai training with Roger Federer.
Another big crew with Auger-Aliassime, including both his coaches: Guillaume Marx and Frédéric Fontang. Also, father Sam and his wife and her daughter.
Physios, trainers … It takes a village to make a champion these days.
Other Canadians in the house?
Brayden Schnur, Peter Polansky and Filip Peliwo – all IMG habitués this time of the year.
With the weather most uncooperative Friday (you can hear the rain pelting down on the roof of the indoor courts), they headed indoors.
Auger-Aliassime practiced with Martin Damm, Jr., the 15-year-old son of longtime doubles star Martin Damm. (Damm Jr. is a HUGE kid for 15).