Tremblay grew up in Montreal playing hockey. Replace the name and the city - and Tremblay says that's a sentence that could just as easily be applied to a large majority of Canadian youth. Like most of his friends, he would travel almost every weekend to play in hockey tournaments, and sometimes on weekdays. It wasn't unusual to drive eight hours from Montreal to Ontario for a game, on a Tuesday. Tremblay's story starts like plenty of promising young hockey players in Canada, but it took an original turn the moment he was slammed against the boards and injured his neck.
Tremblay was 12 when a hard check sent him to the hospital. He quickly recovered, and he could have gotten back on the ice, but he realized his heart wasn't in it. He was more excited watching tennis, not hockey, on TV, as he rooted for a golden generation of young Canadian tennis players that was making the racquet sport cool. He decided to give it a shot - and it soon became his whole world.
Despite starting late in life for a prodigy, Tremblay showed promise so quickly that he was invited to train full-time at an academy which forced a pause in his in-person education. Instead of classroom learning, most of his high school experience was online. Tremblay would train from 7:00 to 10:00 every morning, study or listen to online lessons from 10:00 to noon, and then train some more from 1:00 to 4:00.
Tremblay estimates that he spent only one out of every three nights under his parents' roof. When he wasn't at the academy, he was often on the road at tournaments - from Florida to Vancouver and anywhere in between playing the ITF Junior Circuit, the premier level for worldwide competition among under-18 tennis players. It was often just Tremblay and his coach, constantly on the road, in pursuit of individual titles. That can be the blessing of an individual sport. Sometimes it's nice not to rely on anyone else. But, sometimes it's nice when you can rely on someone else.
Tremblay decided to pursue college opportunities in the U.S., and an organization called Sports Ambition helped him field offers from programs all across the country - including schools in California, Alabama, and Tennessee. In addition to his tennis game, his portfolio included a high GPA, which he credits to the discipline required to maintain his schedule. Ultimately, he chose Siena because of the reputation of the finance program and relative proximity to Montreal. So, for the first time in four years... he's in a classroom. And, for the first time in six years, he has teammates.
"The team aspect is really different. It's definitely an adjustment. It wasn't like that playing as kids or teenagers. When you go to a tournament, you just play for yourself. Now, my individual match affects everyone else. It's a team win versus an individual win. I like the camaraderie. Plus, it's different the way the fans cheer for one school at home matches but not the other!"
"My Siena experience has kind of been like going back to primary school. I'm in the classroom, and I'm socializing with people my age. It's also different staying in the same place every night. It's been an adjustment, but I'm happy for it. Tennis can be a lonely sport playing for only yourself. Everybody here has been really friendly."
Mathis Tremblay '25