For Valérie Tétreault, it was the start of her holiday vacation. “I was coming quietly. When I saw my aunt, my mother, my sisters, I started to suspect that something a little bigger was going on. »

The surprise was successful. Tétreault knew that she was going to the L’Île-des-Sœurs Tennis Club to talk about her journey and her career with young players. Then she was going to hit a few balls with these, hence her sports gear.

But she had no idea that her name was now written outside on both sides of the playing surface, in the same place where we see “Montreal” on the courts of the National Bank Open.

“It’s really a dose of love that I received this afternoon,” she said, a few minutes after the registrations were revealed.

“For me, that means I haven’t been forgotten. Let people remember my time, the hours of training I spent on the field here. It really warms my heart. »

Valérie Tétreault started playing tennis at the age of 8. Coming from a modest background, living in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, she got up at 4 a.m. to go train at the L’Île-des-Sœurs Tennis Club, encouraged by her aunt Sylvie, her first female coach.

These long hours spent wearing down pitch number 9 ultimately allowed him to rank 112th in the world on the professional circuit. To reach the main draw of the US Open in 2009. Then to face the great Kim Clijsters at the 2010 Australian Open.

“We had a good journey together,” recalls Jack Cinciripini, his coach at the end of the 2000s. The coach still works to this day at the L’Île-des-Sœurs Tennis Club.

It was he who “gave him back the taste of playing tennis,” Tétreault told colleague Michel Marois in 2009.

“We have a lot of good memories,” Cinciripini said on this cold Tuesday in December. She deserves it, I’m happy for her. And not just for what she did on the field. »

Valérie Tétreault retired from sports in 2010, at the age of 22. Eugène Lapierre, then director of the tournament that was long called the Rogers Cup, quickly took her under his wing. Tétreault became the tournament’s communications director in 2011. Until succeeding Eugène Lapierre at the head of the National Bank Open last summer. She also worked as an analyst at TVA Sports over the last decade.

“They not only recognize the quality of her career, the fact that she came here,” Lapierre explains to La Presse. But also his post-career. It comes with the club’s pride in having encouraged a young girl who has made her career, and who will now influence tennis for years to come. »

Already, when Valérie Tétreault’s retirement was announced 13 years ago, a banner was installed high up on the pitch. Today, the words that represent the values ​​of the tennis player – “progression, respect, humility, determination”, to name a few – are written on the wall.

When his trainer Christine Pichet gives him the floor at the start of the ceremony, she hands him the microphone and says: “Come inspire! »

Because that was the objective of the event. After hearing her talk about her journey, young people asked her questions, to which she answered with the generosity and charisma that we know of.

“I have the impression that when I go back to these memories now, I don’t always have the same analysis as I did then,” she emphasizes to the media, afterwards. I feel like I was young to experience a lot of business! »

She refers to the ITF tournaments that took her around the world as a teenager and early adult, both as juniors and professionals.

What makes her most proud is “having gone after [her] dream,” says Tétreault.

“I definitely wasn’t the most talented player, but I believed in work. That through perseverance and determination, we were able to achieve our goals. And for me, that was a bit like the maxim of my career. »

“If we think it can inspire young people, honestly, so much the better. It makes me say that perhaps I have achieved a little something in life. »