Rochon, Henri

Henri Rochon, tennis player (b at Sainte-Madeleine d'Outremont parish, Qué 12 Mar 1924; d at Montréal 5 Feb 2005). In the summer of his 7th year, Henri Rochon was introduced to TENNIS, playing on a vacant lot north of Montréal. After dinner he would run to the Jarry tennis club, and with his face glued to the fence, longingly watch the club members compete. In his mind, the first flashes of a lifelong passion began to emerge.

Two years later, at the age of 9, young Henri defeated the champion of the St-Eusèbe parish - a 25-year-old adult! He attracted the attention of tennis promoters, and joined the Outremont tennis club, where he continued his apprenticeship against players who were clearly older and better than he was.

At 14 Rochon won the Stuart Club tournament, and the following year earned his first provincial title by winning the junior championship. Two years later, in 1941, he scooped up the intermediate adult championship and recouped his junior title by defeating Bob Watt Jr., the provincial title-holder. The same year, the two opponents became doubles partners at the Stuart Club, and together were victorious in the tournament against the formidable Marcel Rainville (1934 Canadian Open winner) and his teammate Roger Durivage, who ranked fourth in Canada in 1940.

During the winter, Henri Rochon kept in shape by playing ping-pong to such a degree that he won the provincial championship in this discipline in 1941.

One thing led to another, and Rochon pursued his career while earning his living in the insurance business. A magician on the court, he succeeded in working his way up to the highest national level in 1947 and again in 1949, when he won the Canadian Open with a decisive 6-3, 6-4, 4-6 and 6-2 victory over Lorne Main. By doing so he replicated the achievement of Marcel Rainville, the previous French Canadian to have won this prestigious tournament.

Ranked among the top ten in Canada for nearly three decades (1946 to 1965 except for three years), Rochon represented Canada in the DAVIS CUP championships from 1946 to 1956. A teammate of Robert Bédard, he racked up a record of 7 victories and 14 defeats during his ten-time participation in the Davis Cup.

The man known for his tremendous drop shot later pursued his career with veterans, winning several championships among players 55 and older, and later among those 65 and older. This wizard of the racket with the likeable yet colourful nature died after a long illness, in 2005.

He had earlier been inducted into the Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame (1991) and the Panthéon du tennis québécois (1995). The following year, the QUEBEC SPORTS HALL OF FAME (Temple de la renommée des sports du Québec) opened its doors to him.