Tennis

Jean-François Manibal: 42 years of passion

In addition to the competition, the National Bank Open presented by Rogers is the opportunity to pay tribute to Montréal’s tennis pioneers.

After Aleksandra Wozniak, who paved the way for Eugenie Bouchard and Leylah Annie Fernandez with her success, and tennis writer emeritus Tom Tebbutt, who’s kept us au courant for nearly five decades, were inducted into the Tennis Canada Hall of Fame earlier this week, Jean-Francois Manibal was recognized for his 42 years at Tennis Québec, including 32 as executive director until his retirement last December.  

After that many years, it seems more appropriate to call it a vocation rather than a career.

The challenges that come with success

Tennis Canada went all out for the ceremony held on Centre Court at IGA Stadium after Félix’s match.

“When I first got there, the budget was $260,000 with debts. The treasurer and I promised we’d never let that happen again. This year, tennis is running on a budget of over two million dollars with surpluses, even though they’re modest given today’s costs,” he said.”

“That’s how we were able to put services in place that benefited Félix, Eugenie, Leylah and others,” he added, proud of the local talents who went on to become Grand Slam finalists and semifinalists, starting with Sébastien Lareau and Sébastien LeBlanc.

Win-win

One of the great qualities of Jean-François Manibal, who made the right choice in appointing Andréanne Martin as his successor, is that he’s never been afraid or even hesitant to surround himself with strong people. He is supporting Andréanne Martin in the transition.

Réjean Genois was his president for 33 years before retiring in May.

People like Eugène Lapierre, Richard Legendre, Andrée Martin, André Labelle and Sylvain Bruneau all honed their skills at Tennis Québec.

François Godbout was a colleague, and so was the late Maurice Leclerc.

“Working in tennis was a privilege. I met so many people who helped me become who I am. You know, I consider myself very lucky that they chose me, accepted me and kept me all those years,” said the former instructor at the municipal club in Roberval.

In the same way, tennis in Quebéc is lucky to have been able to rely on Jean-François Manibal’s passion for over 40 years

Man of the seas

What will Jean-François Manibal do to stay busy now that he’s retired? He’s a fisherman.

But not just any type of fishing: lobster fishing in Grande-Anse, New Brunswick, where he has a home.

“Our crew spends 60 days at sea during the season,” he explained.

On to Toronto 

After IGA Stadium yesterday, Jean-François Manibal will be heading to Sobeys Stadium in Toronto, which is hosting the women’s event of the National Bank Open. He’s Tennis Canada’s special guest at the provincial associations’ meeting. And that says a lot about the respect he commands.

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