June 13, 2024

Open Court


Canadian content on Team Naomi as Bester signs on

BRISBANE, Australia – There’s some Canadian content on the team as former No. 1 Naomi Osaka begins her comeback after 15 months away.

His name is Philip Bester, a former Canadian Davis Cup player who relocated to the Los Angeles area about seven years ago and runs his own academy there.

At 35, he brings his experience and a second set of eyes to coach Wim Fissette, as a high level hitting partner.

And he’s a believer.

Here’s our exclusive interview with Bester on how it all came about, what he’s seen, and what he thinks the future holds.

The Bester Bio

Bester with longtime mate Peter Polansky, during pre-season training at the IMG Academy a few years ago.

Born in Germany, Bester moved to Vancouver at a very young age. And in the era that just predates the arrival of Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil, was an integral part of the Canadian men’s tennis scene, including Davis Cup.

Exactly 18 years ago, he was the No. 8 junior in the world, after he reached the final of the prestigious Eddie Herr tournament in Florida. Armed with a nifty onehanded backhand and some pretty good all-court skills, he had a tremendous junior career during an erea where the Canadian kids didn’t have that pathway paved with gold, as they do now.

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Earlier that year, he reached the final of the Roland Garros boys’ singles, losing to Martin Klizan.

It didn’t quite pan out in the pros, as he peaked at No. 225 in singles and wrapped things up in 2017.

He did play Davis Cup for Canada on several occasions, the first two during those years when the Canadians had to slog down to South America and face the clay-courters in the Americas Zone.

He also got the call in 2016, when Canada played France in the World Group – in Guadeloupe.

The Canadian Davis Cup team in Guadeloupe in 2016.

The French had boated tons of red French clay to Guadeloupe at tremendous expense – all of which was intended to slow down the Canadian No. 1, Milos Raonic.

Except Raonic didn’t end up playing, and Bester got the call. He got to face Richard Gasquet in singles, and Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in doubles partnered with Vasek Pospisil.

It wasn’t long before Bester was repatriated to the Los Angeles area by Canadian hockey icon Wayne Gretzky, who had the will and the means to hire him as a private coach for his daughter Emma.

Emma Gretzky is now at SMU, playing college tennis.

But Bester stayed in the area, and developed a solid clientele of young players he works with.

He’s open to being part of Team Osaka beyond Australia, at least in the short term. But only time will tell; as he mentions in the interview, he has a good group of young players he’s training at home that he’s committed to.

Bester lined up a sweet one-handed backhand during his playing days.

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