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Tennis background pays off for Rohrer




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The 17-year-old Canadiens prospect played tennis for ten years before choosing to pursue his hockey career full-time as the “team aspect” was much more appealing to him.

Now Rohrer is reaping the benefits of his valuable experience on the field with OHL’s Ottawa 67’s.

The former Austrian national junior tennis champion scored 25 goals for the team in his first campaign in Canada last season, including seven in power play.

He estimates that a handful of those power play snipes were a direct result of the elite hand-eye coordination skills he developed while serving and working his way to victory.

“Tennis worked really well for coordinating my hands and feet. I played the whole power game in front of the net in Ottawa because I said to the other guys, ‘If you shoot a normal puck, a normal wrist player on the net, I’m going to do it. bend nine times out of ten.’ I really emphasized that with our defender at the top of the zone, Jack Matier,” explained Rohrer, who was a third-round pick (75th overall) last month. “The guys on the flanks usually rip one-timers or walk in and rip shots, which is hard to repel. I’m more of a fencing guy. That’s why I always said to our defender at the top, ‘If you get a job, shoot “Don’t even think about where there’s an opening or whether to go high or low, just shoot it on the net when you’ve got a job and I’m going to redirect it.” That was kind of the strategy.”

The Feldkirch native recalls being “shuffled” into wing position “at one point” for a few practices and games, and soon felt out of place.

Rohrer likes to be in the thick of battle. There’s no denying that.

“At that point I went to the coach and said, ‘I really like it in front of the net. I’m not afraid of the puck and I like to deflect pucks,’ so that’s how we did it in the power play,” said Rohrer, who also kept the pace in the 67’s scoring with 48 points in 64 regular-season games. “Some of my goals were direct tip-ins and some were tip-ins from rebounds from the keeper’s pads.”

The youngster also benefited mentally from his extensive tennis background.

Playing an individual sport can be a drag, especially if it doesn’t necessarily go the way you want, but it has made him stronger on the top.

“Tennis is a single sport, so I don’t think you can really hide behind other people. In hockey, if you don’t have a good game, a scout might really see that you didn’t play a good game, but if you don’t have a good game.” game and you’re mentally struggling with tennis, it’s obvious. Everyone sees it,” said Rohrer, minutes after being selected at the Bell Center four weeks ago. “That’s something you can kind of deal with, not even in hockey, but just life wise. I think you can really learn from other sports.”

Rohrer was initially introduced to tennis through relatives and simply followed in their footsteps.

His father, Stefan Lochbihler, was a former professional who reached a career-best world ranking of No. 141, won a 1989 ATP Challenger Tour title and currently serves as the national coach for Liechtenstein.

His older brother, Niklas, also plays and he recently earned the first ATP points of his career in doubles at an ITF Futures tournament on home soil in Kottingbrunn.

As for the playing style of the NHL hopeful back in the day…

“I was a guy who was everywhere. I always played serve and volley. I played unusual I guess. I wasn’t the type of guy who hit 50 balls back and forth. I was the guy who went in for the net and made a lot stops,” Rohrer described. “Sometimes I also made shots that were way too aggressive. That was my game.”

His tennis influences included 22-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal and Frenchman Gael Monfils.

Both players caught his attention in very different ways.

“It was Nadal’s attitude and how he acts on the pitch. He has that hunger and he never lets his emotions get the better of him. That was what I really loved about him,” Rohrer explained. “And Monfils is the type of player I was. I was always the guy who could run pretty fast and get to every ball. He does the same.”

Nadal remains one of his favorites, but Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman is a close second.

“He reminds me a bit of my brother. My brother is very small and Diego is also very small,” joked Rohrer, referring to the 1.80m tall ATP Tour veteran. “My brother loves him, so I like to watch him too.”

Monfils and Schwartzman compete in the 2022 National Bank opens at the IGA Stadium in Montreal, which kicks off on Saturday with qualifying.

Unfortunately, Rohrer will not be attending, but he hopes to catch up on coverage from abroad as the event continues.

And while golf has become his main leisure activity, he remains an avid tennis fan.

“It’s kind of on our TV all the time in the house with my dad and brother around. When I was younger I probably watched every Top 10 forehand highlight video out there on YouTube,” Rohrer concluded with a laugh. “But I still watch a lot of tennis.”




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