Alexandre Cotard, The Racquet Club of Lake Bluff ’s Junior Program Director and Head Tennis Professional, coaches young athletes with a focus on character-building, care, and self-esteem.
“For me, it all revolves around care. Care instills responsibility in what you do. Caring for something makes you want to work harder and aspire to excellence. It goes beyond your own work—it creates respect for other’s work and builds strong friendships along the way,” shares Cotard. “My coaching philosophy embraces these everyday life principles.”
Alex Cotard comes from a tennis playing family. He was raised in the beautiful village of Roquebrune Sur Argens in Provence, where, he says “everyone was playing the game—grandparents, parents, cousins … I got my first racquet at four-years-old and remember spending a lot of time hitting against the wall.” His father is a tennis coach for the French Federation and taught Alex the technical fundamentals, and he naturally inherited a passion for the game. “My father taught me and my brother, Nico (also on the coaching staff at RCLB), to grow and become better players, then later mentoring us to become better teachers.” Alex played his first official tournament at age ten in the French Riviera on red clay. Though he doesn’t recall the outcome, he vividly remembers loving the vibe, the intensity, and the competitiveness. “I couldn’t wait to play my next one,” he shares.
The U.S., for him, was always the country of sports and achievement. After moving to the United States at age 22, drawn here by a desire to “get closer to the winning culture and passion for sports,” he connected with French tennis coach Sylvain Guichard, the former head coach at Mississippi State, who had become the general manager at RCLB. Guichard introduced him to a game plan of precise technical instruction, and with full support from club owners, Lake Bluff and Lake Forest residents Dan Bruch and Gary Janko, he enthusiastically joined the team in 2008.
Passion for RCLB, his fellow staff members, and their students is clear. Cotard shares, “As a coach, I like being on the court with our students, coaching close to the action. As a director, what truly makes me proud is seeing our teaching method and care paying off. Also, seeing the chemistry between our coaches and students on all the courts, having fun improving all the skills required by our sport, and building self-esteem and confidence.” He believes it is RCLB’s excellent attention to detail and the quality instruction by all 15 pros that make it a particularly attractive club. “Many coaching programs and academies get lost in the process of growing the top and lose focus on growing from within. Our program’s success lays upon growth from the ground up.”
RCLB’s ground-up approach results in large student retention and constant growth, from early stages to state, national, and collegiate level champions. It is important for Cotard to note, however, that the coaches “always take into account the needs and expectations of every player, whether they are new to the game or a nationally ranked junior player.” The satisfaction of all players is incredibly important. And with care and character at the core of their coaching ethos, it is no surprise that Cotard’s most emphatic expression is this: “The RCLB coaching staff holds a deep appreciation for our members and our amazing ownership and cannot wait to see everyone back on the court. ”