At a tennis center in Langley, BC, 13-year-old Timoffi Trushenov serves a tennis ball with all his might.
He has been in the sport since he was four and wants to be the best.
His development was in jeopardy when Russia invaded his country, but almost a year later he is ranked No. 1 in his age group in BC and seventh nationally.
“In Canada I have more chances to play better tennis,” he told CBC News.
Trushenov’s success is the result of compassion from the community that is a world away.
When the war started, Larry Jurovich, tennis coach and manager of a family-run tennis center in Langley and other BC towns, contacted the Ukraine Tennis Federation and said he was ready to support coaches or players.
Jurovich lived in the UK for many years and served as Head of Coach Education for the Lawn Tennis Association – the governing body for tennis in that country.
Its center in Langley has worked to develop the Lower Mainland into a model of tennis development based on best international practice.
After war broke out in Ukraine, Jurovich sponsored Trushenov’s mother and younger brother, and finally their father when he arrived about seven months after them.
“He always wants to help people and that’s a huge asset to our program,” his daughter Noah Jurovich said in a recent interview.
Larry Jurovich was unavailable to speak to CBC News for this story as he is overseas.
“Our life is absolutely fulfilled”
Trushenov’s family is one of more than 132,000 Ukrainian nationals who have entered Canada since early 2022. More than 11,000 have settled in BC
The federal government has created a special program that accelerates immigration for Ukrainians. Individuals entering through this program are considered temporary residents. This means they can work and study in Canada for three years.
Jurovich welcomed the Trushenovs at the airport, lodged them in his house for two weeks, and then let them live in an estate at the tennis center for six months.
He also helped Trushenov’s parents find a job and coaches the young tennis star for free.
“I feel safe and so do my children,” said Trushenov’s mother, Anna Trusheonova.
“Our lives are absolutely full.”
Dream about being the best
Trushenov’s days are filled with long tennis practices. His goal is to one day be ranked No. 1 in the world by the Association of Tennis Professionals, the governing body of professional men’s tennis.
He says it’s been hard leaving friends and loved ones behind.
“The first week was very tough. I didn’t speak English at all, but then it got better and better,” he said.
He knows Canada is a match.
“I want to stay here my whole life because I really like Canada.”
However, Trushenov is currently facing hurdles in accelerating his career. He cannot participate in national tournaments because he is not a permanent resident. The tennis center is looking forward to when he can compete.
“He’s a great tennis player. He works the hardest on the court,” Noah said.
Trusheomova hopes to make Canada the family’s permanent home.
“When the war stops it will take time to rebuild our country so right now this is the best way to raise our children and our family and my children are safe,” she said.