Martin Laurendeau felt the time was right to give up the job as captain of Canada’s Davis Cup team.
The 53-year-old Laurendeau had enough on his plate coaching rising star Denis Shapovalov and had already served as captain for 12 years.
“Perhaps Denis’s pace was a bit of a catalyst, but it’s a long time to be captain in any team sport,” Laurendeau said Friday on a conference call. “I thought maybe it’s time for another captain to jump in.
“Maybe it’s time to refresh the staff and give other people a chance.”
Tennis Canada named Davis Cup veteran Frank Dancevic as the new captain on Thursday. Dancevic, 33, will oversee the squad for the first time when Canada travels to Osijek, Croatia for a World Group first round series on indoor clay courts Feb. 2-4.
Laurendeau took over as captain from Grant Connell in 2004 and managed a Canadian team that, led by singles ace Milos Raonic and doubles veteran Daniel Nestor, battled out of American zone competition to reach the prestigious World Group. Canada is entering its seventh season at the top level.
The best year was 2013 when Canada reached the semifinals for the first time in 100 years, only to lose to Novak Djokovic and Serbia.
The team confirmed its spot for next year with a win over India in September, when Shapovalov won both of his singles matches.
“I just felt it was a good time to finish,” said Laurendeau. “We had a home tie that was a must-win.
“We have a generation of young players coming up. I wasn’t tired, but a bit diluted from the travels of the tour and a hectic schedule, and the responsibilities of being a captain and a full time coach on tour.”
Shapovalov started 2017 ranked 250th in the world and battled his way to 49th before settling at his current 51st placing. His highlight was beating Rafael Nadal and Juan Manuel Del Potro while reaching the semifinals at the Rogers Cup in Montreal. The 18-year-old will be looking to climb even higher in 2018.
Laurendeau said there should be no problem getting Shapovalov to continue playing Davis Cup. He and 17-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime are expected to lead Canada’s squad for the next several years.
“Him and Felix are young and hungry and they want to be in the action,” Laurendeau said.
The new team leader will be Dancevic, who has appeared in 24 Davis Cup ties for Canada since 2002, second most all-time behind Nestor’s 51.
Laurendeau said Dancevic’s first task will be making the mental transition from being a player to a job that is more like a coach.
“When you’re a player you only think about yourself but when you’re a coach you have to think about others,” said Laurendeau.”It’s a 180-degree turn and, to me, it’s the toughest phase to complete.
“Frank has never coached, so there will be a transition period for him. But I think he has the respect of the active players, which is very important in Davis Cup.”