NEW YORK | The first time Sam Aliassime spotted Granby Challenger champion Gabriel Diallo on Sunday, the mighty server was just 12 year. But immediately, the coach sensed that there was something special about this young player.
Diallo was then in action in a junior tournament in Mont-Tremblant.  ;
However, it took another two years before their paths crossed again.
And the sequel is no stranger to the successes that the Quebecer enjoyed last week.
“One day, I learned that Tennis Canada had cut him off from the National Tennis Center. training, says Mr. Aliassime. Gabriel is a young man who comes from afar. He wasn't making much progress, but he was a fast growing boy. It was not easy for the coordination, the injuries. »
But Sam Aliassime believed in his talent. He therefore proposed to his parents to have Diallo move from Montreal to Quebec, so that he could train him. .
Thus for three years, until he entered the University of Kentucky, the 6'7″ giant honed his tennis with Mr. Aliassime.
“I saw his potential, specifies Sam. He has also worked with Félix a lot. He's like his brother. So I wanted to give him the same education, the same values as my son. “
” From the start, Sam saw that there was something to do with Gabriel, underlines Jacques Hérisset, who is nicknamed “Monsieur tennis” in Quebec and who is a good friend of Mr Aliassime. Gabriel really followed his teachings to the letter, on and off the pitch. »
The school of life
And, by the band, Diallo took advantage of the successes of Félix to polish his own talent. He accompanied him to the prestigious Indian Wells tournament a few years ago to see how the professionals work.
If Sam Aliassime wanted to help young Diallo improve his game, he also wanted instill in him the education that would make him a good player. Or a good human, if his hopes of making tennis his career were to fade.
“Tennis prepares you for life”, believes the coach, who quotes the organization and professionalism necessary for the practice of this sport.
And, he adds, “someone who is really messy in his life will be really messy in the field”.
When he met Le Journal, Sam Aliassime still had in mind this tasty anecdote about his debut with Diallo.
Without his water bottles
“When he was living with his parents, maybe his mum took too much care of him. At one game, he arrived without a water bottle. I said to him: “You need water, it prepares you for your fight.” He never forgot to bring it again. »
So far, the advice offered by Mr. Aliassime seems to be bearing fruit. In his third Challenger tournament, the 20-year-old claimed his first professional title.
Diallo isn't ruling out playing more this season. But true to the values that guide him, in the hours following this first triumph, Sam Aliassime warned his protege.
“I told him: 'Tomorrow, you go back to school, on the same benches as the others. You forget that and you focus on your project.” At this age, you can easily lose your mind. »
And Diallo seems to listen well to the advice of his mentor. “The next step is to go back to school, specified after his victory the student in finance. I want to graduate. If the ATP doesn't work, at least I can work in a bank! »
– With QMI Agency