Rob Steckley, coach of French Open finalist Lucie Safarova, was among the TPA Excellence Award winners announced at the annual TPA national coaching conference at Aviva Centre in Toronto on Thursday.
Steckley received the 2015 Coaching Excellence award for his incredible work with Safarova over the past three years, which helped the Czech player reach career-high rankings of No. 5 in singles and No. 4 in doubles last year. Safarova was a finalist at Roland Garros in 2015 and won the doubles titles at the Australian Open and French Open in her most successful season as a pro. One of Canada’s top international coaches, Steckley has coached other players in the past, including helping Aleksandra Wozniak to world No. 21 and Sania Mirza, who is currently No. 1 in doubles.
He unfortunately could not be in attendance at the conference as he is in the midst of the WTA season in Doha with Safarova.
Paul Cairns of Ontario received the Club Professional Excellence award. The tennis director at Boulevard Club for the past five years, he has been instrumental in increasing membership in the tennis section – bringing it from 525 to 600 and junior participation from 96 to 167. Managing a staff of six year-round and eight seasonal coaches, Cairns is a certified Coach 3 who is also still actively involved in adult and junior instruction himself, coaching over 30 hours a week. In addition, he organizes several charity events annually including tournaments and a junior program for children in the Parkdale community.
The Course Facilitator Excellence award was given to Quebec’s Andreanne Martin. A successful seniors tennis player who has played in many world championships, Martin’s skills in the sport extends beyond the court. She has been a course facilitator for 20 years and was recently appointed Technical and Regional Development Director at Tennis Quebec. An excellent communicator who makes all candidates feel at ease, Martin is also involved in the development of certification material for Tennis Canada.
Albertan Gary Fletcher was honoured with the TPA Service to the Game award. After 24 years as the head tennis professional at the Royal Glenora Club in Edmonton, he stepped down one year ago, and his immense impact is still being felt. During his time, the club went from three bubble courts to two permanent indoor facilities, seven indoor and three outdoor courts. He worked with many tournament committees as the club hosted several events including professional Futures and Challengers, a Fed Cup tie, and many seniors and junior events. He also has mentored numerous coaches throughout the years who have moved into leadership positions.
Two facilities were also celebrated for their great work growing tennis in their respective communities, with the Abony Family Tennis Centre in New Brunswick winning Year-Round Facility Excellence and the Thunder Bay Community Tennis Centre receiving Seasonal Facility Excellence.
A permanent structure with six indoor tennis courts, the Abony Family Tennis Centre in Fredericton makes good use of their courts with 45 participants aged three to five in their Le Petit program and 80 people in their Cardio Tennis program. The club also is widely involved in the community, giving away 500 racquets a year and providing free instruction to 60 children bi-weekly from the Boys and Girls Club.
In Thunder Bay, the tennis centre features nine outdoor courts and it continually seeks to extend its reach beyond its 400 members. Through outreach programs in the school boards, the club has reached over 200 kids. It also runs programs for its local Boys and Girls Club and is part of a program in Thunder Bay that supports underprivileged children. Kids Tennis is a major focus, with over 140 kids participating in their summer program alongside its regular men’s and women’s leagues.
The Paul & Joyce Chapnik Coaching Development Scholarship was presented to Jon Kudjerski of Ontario. He is currently coaching nine U12 players within the Top 30 and is a provincial coach for U9, U10, and U12 players. Committed to taking his players to events, he is a coach for inter-province competition. He currently works at the Toronto Tennis Academy.
And the final winner was Brandon Alguire, who received the Gary Caron Scholarship for his work coaching U14 and U12 players. A promising young coach, he is the head coach for these age groups at ACE Tennis in Burlington in addition to leading Team Ontario at the U12 national championships.