Photo: Martin Sidorjak
For anyone who’s been to Tennis Canada’s Toronto office at Sobeys Stadium, you’ll be familiar with the canvas timeline which adorns the corridor walls. You can’t miss it.
These moments from Canadian tennis history offer a daily reminder of the great players, coaches and builders of our sport that have gone before us. Each morning, I stroll past those freeze-frames on the short walk from reception to my office and can’t help but reminisce about the incredible times Canadian tennis has already experienced. The storytelling includes Hall of Famers past like Carling Bassett, Lorne Main, among many more, and future inductees like Milos Raonic and Stacey Allaster.
Of course, our most prominent successes have come in recent years: Bianca Andreescu’s tantalizing runs to the 2019 National Bank Open, Indian Wells and US Open titles, Leylah Annie Fernandez’s breakout at the 2021 US Open when she pieced together six consecutive wins before losing a heartbreak final and, most recently, Team Canada presented by Sobeys being crowned World Champions at the 2022 Davis Cup Finals.
Canada has also seen continued success on the junior front with the likes of Victoria Mboko, who won her first pro title at the Saskatoon Challenger in 2022 and three junior doubles titles with fellow Canuck Kayla Cross – not to mention junior Grand Slam doubles final appearances at the AO and Wimbledon.
All of these memories – and more – are etched into my mind, and the minds of Canadian tennis fans, as standout moments on the journey to fulfilling our collective vision of being a world-leading tennis nation. But, what about the future? What is the ambition for Canadian tennis, and how do we achieve it?
Well, that’s a big question – but only because we have such big ambitions. The days when Canadians strived to be Top 100 are long gone. Now, that’s just a milestone on the way to a much larger ambition, like Top 10 – or, why not World No. 1?
The success of our athletes is undoubtedly a result of their hard work, dedication and sacrifices. Félix wouldn’t have won three consecutive titles and a berth at the prestigious ATP Finals without his remarkable perseverance. Canada’s Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup teams wouldn’t have made it to their respective Finals without the players’ admirable application. Bianca wouldn’t have won those titles in 2019 without her ambition and the talent to match, which took painstaking hours on-court to refine.
But there’s another important, secret ingredient. That something special about our country that gives Canadian tennis the advantage. An advantage that we believe will help win more Grand Slam titles, more Gold medals, and provide more positive tennis experiences for recreational players and fans while furthering the growth, development and promotion of tennis in Canada.
That advantage is sparked by best-in-class high-performance development programs via Tennis Canada’s National Tennis Centre presented by Rogers in Montreal, which is supported by regional junior programs in Toronto and Vancouver as well as the great work of Tennis Development Centres (TDCs), Provincial Tennis Associations and independent coaches. We are much stronger as a collective, and that’s why we need to pull together as Team Canada.
Recently, you’ll have seen the grand openings of year-round tennis court facilities we hosted in Markham, Hamilton and Calgary through Tennis Canada’s Year-Round Community Tennis Courts Program presented by Rogers. These projects will provide thousands of Canadians in those communities with access to tennis 12 months a year. We also opened our first National Bank Play Your Court refurbishment in Brampton. These initiatives, along with our efforts to ensure Canadians have access to right-sized racquets and courts and certified coaches who are trained in safe sport, are geared towards giving Canadian tennis the advantage, as is our continued focus on EDI through Tennis Canada’s Gender Equity strategy.
Each of these programs – spread across high performance, coach development and education, wheelchair tennis, community tennis and competitive structure – are underpinned by one common denominator: you. And you can help advance them to boost Canada’s athletes of the future – of all ages, backgrounds and varying skill-levels – to achieve greater success.
Why, in 2023, is your support more important than ever?
Over the years, your generous support of our initiatives ensures we keep the advantage in Canada. Without your contributions today, we can’t achieve our collective ambitions tomorrow, and the Canadian players of the future won’t experience the same advantages the likes of Bianca, Milos and Félix have enjoyed on their journeys to the top.
As I write this, we have finalized a new strategic plan which will set the organization on a course that will bring Canadian tennis continued success with new, far-reaching ambitions. This strategic plan, which we will share publicly in 2023 following final board approval, includes six key pillars: Raise the bar on winning; Lead equitable, inclusive and safe tennis; Accelerate capacity building; Turbocharge the (National Bank Open) engine; Become a digital-first organization, andDeliver ancillary revenues.
By donating to Tennis Canada, you are contributing directly to these critical initiatives that we will gain momentum over the years with the goal of increasing participation and engagement in the sport, especially among youth, and helping to develop the next generation of Canadian tennis stars from the grassroots level to high-performance programs that are made possible thanks to the contributions of many delivery partners.
The momentum Canadian tennis is building is thanks to a collective effort of Canada’s players, coaches, officials, administrators, fans and, of course, volunteers. Let’s harness that momentum and build on it. Let’s make our ambitions a reality together, as a collective.
We can’t wait to see what the next generation of Canadian players can achieve, whether they are winning Grand Slams or winning on park courts in their local neighbourhoods. Please, donate today and let’s make their dreams possible.
President & CEO