The terms ‘sport for life’ and ‘sport for all ages’ are often used when talking about tennis, and Sylvie Quenneville is a perfect example of how these statements can ring true.
Quenneville is one of the top players in her age group in Canada – she ended the 2014 season ranked No. 10 in singles and No. 5 in doubles in the country’s women’s over-45 rankings. But remarkably, she only started playing tennis just six years ago.
Wanting to pursue her own activity, the mother of two teenage boys joined the Capilano Tennis Club in 2009, which was located near her home.
“I needed to look at something for myself and I chose tennis just based on proximity and that it was in my community,” she said. “Basically I wanted to try to get my physical conditioning up and expand my social network. Because at the time my whole life was just work and the kids, so I got a chance to lift my head up for a minute and say this is ‘me’ time.”
Since the moment she first picked up a racquet, tennis has evolved to become a much larger part of her life. First, she encouraged her husband Tibor to join, with whom she now regularly plays mixed doubles. In a short span, she has progressed from lessons to weekend socials to league play and now to official tournaments.
And one day after a match two years ago, she and Tibor also hatched the idea for Tennis Fairplay, the membership-based tennis company they currently run together.
“We wanted to try and instill sportsmanship and fair play in the sport because there’s no real engine that just says big brother is watching,” she said. “In the future we can envision this being something that would either autocorrect or give a sense that that someone is watching you. Although it’s self-regulated and self-rated, Tennis Fairplay can provide that kind of social skills because sportsmanship is something that can be lacking at times.”
Right now, their focus is on providing valuable and interactive content for their members, including those players who are just starting in the sport and looking for resources. They offer a rating system called Tennis DNA, where tennis players are rated not just on technical skills but also on sportsmanship, agility, and other intangibles. Quenneville ultimately wants Tennis Fairplay to be a trusted community partner with other tennis organizations in Canada.
With a business in the sport and continued efforts to improve her tennis abilities, Quenneville has made tennis a big part of her life. The Vancouver resident competed in her first Steve Stevens Senior National Tennis Championships last summer and earlier this month participated in the Western Senior Indoor Championships in Victoria, with more to come.
“As a ranked player, I’m just so happy,” she said. “That wasn’t my goal, I just wanted to get better and the success happened after committing to it. To just grab your racquet and go into the sport, I’m so inspired because you can do it. The sport will allow you to enter and climb as high as you want to. What other sport can give you that opportunity.”
#LiveTheMoment with Sylvie Quenneville
Favourite Canadian tennis moment:
One of my favourite moments was at Davis Cup [against Japan in Vancouver this March] when I had the chance to sit courtside and I saw Milos play. I was looking at his grip, at his breathing and how composed he was. For me, now I’m a lifer. I always knew I was into tennis but being there – I had never been that close before to an athlete performing – and to see that up close and personal, I was totally in awe.
Favourite personal tennis moment:
Tibor and I were competing in the Stanley Park Open tournament and we were down 5-2. We were looking at each other and we figured we had to make a change because we did not want to walk away with a loss. And at 5-2 it was looking pretty grim. So we actually said ‘okay, let’s play every point in the moment.’ And when we said that, we started executing on every point. So we climbed and climbed and we managed to win that round! We won 7-5 and the opponent came to the net, and said to us ‘we don’t know what just happened!’