Justine Tremblay is competing in the Under 12 National Tennis Championship in Mont Tremblant, Québec. (Miranda Fatur/THE NEWS)

Justine Tremblay is competing in the Under 12 National Tennis Championship in Mont Tremblant, Québec. (Miranda Fatur/THE NEWS)

11-year old from Maple Ridge going to tennis nationals

Justine Tremblay has played tennis since she was seven and will compete in Nationals.

It took four years of practice and determination for a young girl from Maple Ridge to make it to the junior national tennis championships, or about a quarter of Justine Tremblay’s life.

Tremblay, 11, was selected to play in the Under-12 Outdoor Rogers Junior Nationals in Mont Tremblant, Que., in both singles and doubles, Aug. 21-17.

“Well it’s actually a funny story,” Justine said. “I wasn’t going to get in, but someone declined and I was one spot behind.”

Justine has been counting down the days to the tournament.

She said to get to nationals, athletes must first compete in a selection series to qualify at the provincial level. Athletes must compete in two of four selection series events, and their best performance determines whether they make it to provincials.

From the provincial levels, the top performers get invited to nationals.

The championships in Québec will be Justine’s first time competing at a national level.

“I feel excited, a little bit nervous. But I’m really excited for this experience,” said Justine.

Practice is something she’s familiar with. She practices every day in the summer, and most days throughout the year.

“I have a machine that helps me. I can put it to do any shot I want and I practice every day in the summer. My dad helps me a lot. He’s very patient with me.”

Patrice Tremblay, Justine’s father, said he supports any sport his daughter loves, as long as it keeps her active.

“She has a coach, so I’m not involved in the coaching. I’m just here to pick up the balls and play a bit with her. Technically, I’m not good enough for tennis, so we just support her in the best way.”

Justine attends an all-French school in Port Coquitlam and trains at the Global Tennis 150 club in Langley. She started at a club in Coquitlam.

She receives coaching at the Langley club now and practices every evening with her dad.

“I have so many friends from my club, provincials, and, hopefully, nationals,” said Justine.

Justine has competed in various provincial championships, such as the Davis Trading Junior Outdoor Provincial Championships in Vancouver in June, where she made it to the quarter-finals.

Justine also competed in the Hollyburn Junior Classic selection series in West Vancouver in May, when she also made it to the quarter-finals.

In April, Justine won the Abbotsford Spring Champs u-12 tournament.

Then at the Bear Mountain selection series in Victoria in June, Justine made her way to the semi-finals.

At the same competition, Justine and her partner won the u-12 girls doubles title.

She first picked up a racket in 2013 during a family trip to Arizona.

“I started hitting the ball, so we took some lessons and continued taking lessons in Maple Ridge, then found the club in Coquitlam.”

Justine has travelled Quebec before to visit family, but this time she’s making the journey east without her parents.

“I’m not going with my parents, so I’m a little bit nervous about that. I’m travelling with the team, so I have to take care of myself.”

Patrice attributes his daughter’s success to date to passion.

“I think it’s her passion. She is very determined, passionate and ready to spend time to practice. Whatever activity you do, as long as you’re active, that’s what is important,” Patrice added.

As for Justine, she calls tennis a stress-reliever.

“It makes me forget about anything else, anything I’m doing, all the stress. It’s my passion, so I just love playing it.”

Justine’s parents were never big tennis players like their daughter. Patrice said he used to play a high level of hockey, and his wife played a high level of golf.

Before playing tennis, Justine was a hockey player, and said she’s been wearing skates since she was a year old.

This is her first season off from hockey.

“It’s my first year without playing hockey. I sure do miss it, but I love tennis way more.”