Ace Agénor sees big future for Mallory
Ronald Agénor, a former world top-25 tennis player, is on the island this week assisting in the development of talented youngster Trey Mallory.
Mallory, 16, is at the L’Academie de Tennis in Boynton Beach, Florida but this week has been getting assistance from Agénor who is now a coach and was brought in by the Mallory family to work with the youngster.
Agénor, a Haitian who was ranked as high as 22nd in the late 1980s, likes what he sees in Mallory and other young tennis players on the island.
“This is my first time coming back to Bermuda since 2001 when I played in the XL Capital Open,” said Agénor, whose best achievement in a grand slam tournament was reaching the quarter-finals of the French Open in 1989.
“My main purpose here is to visit friends who I have known for many years and also spend time with Trey to see where he is at with his tennis and to give some guidance and feedback in order for him to have a plan of action moving forward. He wants to become a professional tennis player and I think he is a great talent. It’s just a matter of putting the structure around him so that he can develop and be able to compete in most of the tournaments on the ITF junior circuit and eventually on some pro tournaments because he has the skills and ability.”
Agénor is impressed with the raw talent he has seen here.
“I noticed there are other talents here in Bermuda and I think the tennis federation is doing a great job and if they can get more support, and the players can get more support some great things can come out of Bermuda,” he said.
Earlier this week, Michael Weeks, the sports minister, paid a visit to the WER Joell Tennis Stadium in Pembroke, where he met Agénor and chatted with Mallory and his father, Ricky, himself a former top player and now a national coach.
“You really have to think about how great this player can be, so that it is worth it to make all the efforts,” said Agénor who is based in Florida but also has a training base in Bordeaux, France. “It’s just a matter of guiding him and taking him to the right tournaments and preparing him well.
“I heard about him a little bit from being in Florida and did see a few videos. I’m enjoying working with him, he’s a great kid. If he continues working he will go far, and it is important that he feels he has the support of the people and officials here in Bermuda.”
Mallory will become the youngest player to represent Bermuda in the Davis Cup when Bermuda competes in Group III matches in Escazu, Costa Rica from May 28 to June 3.
The Bermuda team also consists of No 1 seed Gavin Manders, David Thomas and Neal Towlson with Mallory Sr, the national tennis director, travelling as coach. Agénor is planning to take Mallory with him to Switzerland and France for three weeks prior to Davis Cup.
“Hopefully he’ll play well [at Davis Cup],” he said. “I’m going to continue to work with him throughout the month of May and hopefully can get him ready for Davis Cup. He’ll leave when I leave, I’m working with another junior in France who is pretty good and it will be good for him to be exposed to players in Europe.
“A change of environment is always good. The more people who are involved in his career the better it is from a financial standpoint because it is very costly.
“Other countries are doing it and where there’s a will there’s a way. There are some companies here who could step up to the plate.
“If things work out in the future I would love to come back to Bermuda to be a part of the player development programme. I think bringing some tournaments here would help. You do have a great sports culture in Bermuda, good facilities and tennis needs to catch up with the other sports.”
Michael Wolfe, president of the Bermuda Lawn Tennis Association, is excited about the prospects for young talent like Mallory.
“It’s a good opportunity, with the juniors out here now they get to see a former top-20 player in the world and what his stroke techniques look like,” Wolfe said. “They also get to see one of our up-and-coming juniors in Trey, participate with him and it gives them the inspiration to say ‘this is where I can be if I put in the work’.
“It is excellent having him [Agénor] here, certainly it is something we want to see more of because the more exposure these kids get the better off they are going to be. “It’s all about exposure, on the court, around the court, around the people who have been there and done that. We certainly look forward to having him and others like him here again in the future.
“Minister Weeks is a big supporter of the programmes and we try to invite people down to see what is going on and understand what we’re about and trying to accomplish. We have demonstrated what we can do with adequate funding and support from Government and corporate sponsorship as well.”
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