Photo : Tennis Canada
As long as there is life, there is hope — Italian proverb
As 2021 winds down, it is on that note—which is as philosophical as it is sporting—that projections for the new season of Canadian tennis have been cast, since hope is what underpins the perspectives of Michael Downey, President and Chief Executive Officer of Tennis Canada.
And if anyone can convince the organization’s crew of employees and athletes to fulfill that hope, it’s certainly the captain of the ship, who has stayed the course and weathered the rolling pandemic storm.
In a world as akin to normal as possible, Tennis Canada has set out four key priorities for 2022.
Taking care of its employees
After the economic devastation of 2020 and recovery in 2021, Michael Downey remains cautiously optimistic.
“We have realized how resilient we are as an organization,” he said. “We will fully appreciate being able to get back to business with some semblance of normalcy. COVID-19 has taught us not to take anything for granted.”
He believes it all starts with integration: “We will make a hybrid work approach meet the needs of every employee. We will continue to be flexible on where and when employees work, with the health and well-being of our employees at the heart of how we work.”
Getting the National Bank Open presented by RogerS back on track
For Tennis Canada, getting the National Bank Open back on track in Montréal and Toronto is key. “We fully expect our National Bank Open tournaments to return to what they have become: world-class festival-like entertainment,” he explained. “We will focus more on the customer, trying to make every touch point a better experience and nurture and engage more National Bank Open fans outside the confines of the tournament setting, through rich digital experiences. Our National Bank Open tournaments are the pinnacle of Canadian tennis and, when they arrive every August, they own the tennis world during that special week, so we need to leverage these assets from coast to coast.”
Focusing on the next generation
Preparing the next generation of players will continue to be a central element in 2022, since Michael Downey knows young people are the lifeblood that will ensure Tennis Canada’s long-term success.
“The future of Canadian tennis on the global scene is only as good as the pipeline of talent coming up,” he affirmed. “We need to help attract more promising kids into the sport through the inspiration provided by the Canadians succeeding today and tomorrow around the world and then help enable these committed kids and their coaches to train with the best support possible and be able to compete at every age and stage.”
Providing better access to covered courts year-round
The CEO also believes in the importance of creating more and more opportunities to play tennis all year: “With only 750 accessible year-round courts in all of Canada, we seriously lag the best tennis nations in the world. That disadvantage must be closed over time. Just think about how good Canada will be when that gap is closed. Canadian tennis will be a force to be reckoned with, if it isn’t already!”