Canadian tennis star Denis Shapovalov relies on a Peterborough native to help keep him on the court.
Dr. Nick Martichenko, a chiropractor who also serves as a sports therapist, has worked with Shapovalov, 21, for eight years. He was with Shapovalov for 2 1/2 months starting Aug. 16 when the ATP Tour took them to New York for two events including the U.S. Open, to Paris for the French Open, Italy, Germany, Austria and Russia.
Martichenko witnessed history when Shapovalov became the first Canadian male to reach the U.S. Open quarter-finals. In September he became just the second Canadian male to reach the world’s top 10 rankings when he appeared at No. 10 after reaching the Italian Open semifinals. He also reached the semifinals in Russia and finished the season ranked No. 12.
“A lot of great results, some great tennis and progress and promise for next year,” said Martichenko.
A good athlete in his own right, Martichenko attended Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh on a golf scholarship. After graduating he attended chiropractic college in Toronto.
“When I realized playing golf wasn’t going to be my path to success I was lucky enough to have good enough grades to get into chiropractic college,” he said. “
Upon graduation in 2009 he opened a practice with fellow grad Brad Murray in Tennis Canada’s National Tennis Centre in Scarborough.
He worked with a number of young players but Shapovalov’s team hired Martichenko to work with him as he rose up the world rankings in junior and later ATP tours.
Martichenko also works with Golf Ontario’s Team Ontario program for rising young golfers led by Ennismore native and childhood friend Reg Millage. Peterborough’s Sam Meek, now attending the University of Nevada at Reno, is among the golfers he’s assisted.
His association with Shapovalov grew out of Martichenko’s relationship with tennis coach Adriano Fuorivia. He’s remained with Shapovalov as he moved on to coach Mikhail Youzhny.
His work with Shapovalov is as much about maintenance and injury prevention as it is treatment.
Martichenko saw Shapovalov beat Rafael Nadal at age 17.
“ I couldn’t be happier for him. I’m proud of him,” said Martichenko. “I love being a part of it and helping to find ways to be better. I want the world for him.”
In 2017, he turned over most of the travel with Shapovalov to another therapist. Shapovalov split with that therapist earlier this year so Martichenko joined him on tour.
Martichenko may travel more with Shapovalov then he has in recent years but they also understand he can’t commit to the full tour.
“I’m not doing this job with Denis with any other player,” he said. “I’m doing this because myself and my family care about Denis more than just being a job because we kind of grew up with him. That’s the reason I’m doing it and why my kids will get up early to watch him play.
“I feel very fortunate he’s a part of Jen and my family’s life.”
“My team is very close,” Shapovalov stated through email. “We work great together and I think that gives me an advantage on the court. Nick has been a big part of my team all along the way.”
Martichenko now practices out of The Performance Lab in North York while his wife Dr. Jennifer Martichenko is partners with Nick’s father, Dr. Wayne Martichenko, at the Peterborough Chiropractic Group. The couple, who have three children aged three to seven, live in Bowmanville.
With Team Ontario, Martichenko borrows from his golf experience.
“I know the range of motion and things needed within the golf swing and Reg and I are never on a different page,” he said.”
“Nick is an integral part of our program,” said Millage, “and covers two roles on our coaching team. Strength and conditioning has become an essential component of high-performance golf. Nick helps the athletes get stronger and faster but also helps prevent and treat injuries. He gets instant buy-in from the kids because he has a passion for what he does.”
Like tennis he’s developed relationships with the golfers and stays in touch with Meek.
“That’s the fun part. All the work we do as they’re developing is still relevant as they grow up and become adults,” he said.
Martichenko feels fortunate to love his job.
“When I thought I couldn’t take golf further the idea was I wanted to help other golfers, athletes, tennis players, do the things I couldn’t.
“It kind of takes the place of the competitive spirit I had myself. When you’re there you feel like you’re actually helping the person succeed as they’re playing, as foolish as that might sound. It takes the place of competing yourself. That’s why it’s so much fun.”