If you happen upon Alexandre Barrette at IGA Stadium during Rogers Cup, look him in the eyes. Chances are you’ll see stars.
The spokesperson of the 2018 edition of the tournament is like a kid in a candy store when talking about his passion for tennis and his new responsibilities as the face of the event.
“I don’t know if saying I begged is too strong, but I kept expressing my interest to Valérie [Tétreault, communications manager at Tennis Canada]. I’d do the same when I saw Eugène [Lapierre] and anyone else who had some pull in tennis,” said 36-year-old Barrette. “I kept repeating it, and I’m pretty sure it’s an open secret that I love tennis and love Rogers Cup. I figured my name was on the list and, when Valérie told me it had come up this year, I was really happy.”
Originally from Québec, Alexandre still remembers his first Rogers Cup tournaments at Du Maurier Stadium, which today is IGA Stadium.
“It’s been a big event for me since I was young,” he affirmed. “I mean, I didn’t dream of being a spokesperson when I was seven. I wanted to be a player. The first time I came here, I was eight or nine. It was called the Du Maurier Open then. I was so impressed when my father brought me here to spend the weekend. At the time, there was Michael Stich, and [Ivan] Lendl was still playing. Jason Stoltenberg and all those old names. I also saw [Andre] Agassi a couple of times and followed the players from Québec and Canada.”
“Just to give you an idea, I remember walking into La clé de sol [electronics store]. I must have been shopping for a TV. And I see that Simon Larose is leading 4-0 against Agassi. I stood there for the entire match. The salesman wanted me to leave but I didn’t want to get in my car and risk missing the end of the match,” he recounts.
While he clearly has a special place in his heart for Andre Agassi, Alexandre Barrette insists he doesn’t have a favourite among the WTA or ATP players: he worships them all equally. In addition to coming to Rogers Cup, he has been asked to take part in celebrity matches and tournament activities over the years.
“I had the chance to hit with Diego Schwartzman, who I really admire because he so short and today’s players are so big,” says the host of Taxi payant. “All tennis players impress me. Even when I go to the practice courts and see players I don’t really know, I find the sport fascinating. They’re the world elite in my absolute favourite sport. So they pretty much all impress me.”
Alexandre Barrette is so enthusiastic that you’d think he could take things one step further than fulfilling his long-held dream at Rogers Cup this week.
But you’d be wrong.
“I would love to see a new kind of celebrity match with personalities—like myself—who play tennis, so we can spend a bit more time with the players,” suggests Barrette. “Gino Chouinard is a good player. So are Jean-Thomas Jobin, Marianna Mazza, Louis Morissette, Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse…I’d like to see a match that wouldn’t necessarily monopolize the players too much and more of a mini tournament with former pros like Valérie to keep the level high, or juniors. Let’s say Leyla Annie Fernandez and me versus Jean-Thomas Jobin and Charlotte Robillard-Millette. I mean, as long as I’m part of the equation, that’s all that matters.”
And who knows? After being asked to play at celebrity matches and be the tournament spokesperson, he may just have a management position waiting for him next year.