Tennis Canada announced on Monday the recipients of the 2015 Building Tennis Communities (BTC) Excellence Awards, which are presented each year to recognize dedicated communities, individuals, and partners who have gone above and beyond to develop the game of tennis in their respective communities. BTCs are located in towns and cities across Canada and play a vital role in growing the game of tennis via partnerships with local leaders and associations.
The BTC Community of the Year has been awarded to the Oakridge Racquet Club (ORC) and its community champion, Bernice Kitchin, who is making a long-term impact for kids in this community in Calgary. Since joining the BTC strategy, the ORC has established itself as a thriving and even leading association among the local network of tennis clubs. The ORC now offers a range of activities and events including Team Tennis leagues, Rogers Rookie Tour events, clinics, camps, fun drop-in play opportunities and even provincially-sanctioned tournaments for adults and juniors. Over the past two years, the club has also engaged the surrounding schools, introducing over 1,200 students to the value of health, fitness, and the fun of tennis. Kitchin looks forward to continuing to build an enduring legacy of sport and tennis in her community in the years to come.
The award for Rookie of the Year is presented to a person who has accomplished in a year what a community can usually only hope to do in three years. Norman Rothsching is the very definition of an entrepreneur – in just one year, Norman has developed a program of ‘Try’ activities involving more than 1,000 kids aged four to 16 years old, implemented Learn to Play programs, and Team Tennis leagues with over 100 youth. He has contributed to the development of Granby, Que.’s tennis infrastructure with the addition of ¾-court lines and mini-courts in a school yard. He is a great leader for the regional association of Richelieu-Yamaska region, establishing a non-profit organization now called Tennis Granby.
The community of Sault Ste. Marie has a tennis history going back more than 100 years and because of a gentleman named Bill Watts, this community has been presented with the Tennis Friendly award for the first time. Last November, the Sault Ste. Marie Tennis Association (SSMTA) became a registered tennis association joining forces with the Ontario Tennis Association. Strong advocates of the OTA and Tennis Canada’s initiatives, SSMTA promoted tennis in various different schools and community centres such as Sault College, Algoma University, and City Parks and Recreation. They also partnered with the Pan Am torch relay and Canada Day to showcase tennis last summer.
Sy Silverberg, of Victoria in British Columbia, is the recipient of the Community Partner of the Year award. He registered Society for Kids at Tennis as a not-for-profit in October 2013 and was running his first program by May 2014. Not even two years later, over 2,000 kids have already participated in programs run by the organization. The key to his success? Silverberg currently works with several different organizations to deliver programming, such as the city’s parks and recreation department, community centres, low-income schools, and different social agencies including Aboriginal and new Canadian groups. Several sponsors have also come on board, such as Canadian Tire Jumpstart, Royal Bank, Participaction, and ViaSport.
“Congratulations to all of our winning community champions,” said Richard Crowell, director, community tennis at Tennis Canada. “Each year, I am in awe of the fantastic work our BTC champions across the country put into growing our great sport. Our four winners this year are remarkable examples of how individuals can affect change in their own communities and how tennis can be a positive force to bring communities together. Thank you to our winners and all of our BTC champions for their dedication, passion, and unrelenting support of tennis.”
The Tennis Canada Excellence Awards were introduced in 1982 and are presented annually to the country’s top tennis players, coaches, officials, communities, and administrators in recognition of their outstanding contributions made to Canadian tennis.