CHAMPIONS- UNDER 10 TOURNAMENT AT THE REXALL CENTRE
For the past two years many parents have thanked me for sponsoring the tournament. They informed me how much their kids enjoyed playing at “THE REXALL”. I understand where they are coming from because if the juniors are keen on tennis, they all want to be centre court at the Rexall. But the parents have another question. Why am I doing it? I hope to answer that question in this blog.
I love tennis and have been playing, for give or take a year or two ,70 years. Back a few years I won 3 doubles championships at my club, York Racquets. But there is more to it than that. I am a passionate Canadian , and when you include that in my love of tennis it follows that I want Canadian champions. I want Canada to be a factor in tennis all over the world. It did not happen until Michael Downey took over the leadership at Tennis Canada and I saw the organization was serious about winning.
As well I am a doer. I get an idea and I go for it. I started by donating $5,000 for any junior who won a doubles champion at a Grand Slam tournament and $20,000 for any singles champions at a grand slam or any other important world junior event. In a few years Sharon Fichman, Eugenie Bouchard, Gabriela Dabrowski Filip Peliwo won $5000, but I felt I could do more if I actually sponsored my own tournament and if the kids were younger. The money was going to established players brought up by Tennis Canada. I wanted to help establish new players. There was no real under 10 tournament. And so was born the “CHAMPIONS” UNDER . An idea has to be implemented or it just remains a dream. Tennis Canada had too much doing to get involved and so I approached the Ontario Tennis Association. Jim Boyce and Kartik Vyas thought the idea had merit and because at this time of the year the Rexall was available they would give it a try. They sure did! The idea for the tournament is mine, but they have spent along with OTA staff many hours of work. They deserve all the credit for a tournament I am proud of and the kids are having a “TENNIS BALL” Their first pro tournament!
I wanted the working tennis pros in OTA clubs to find the best under 10 players and enter them in my tournament. The winning money would go to them for lessons if their entrant won or was runner-up, and they would have a real incentive to look for the best kids. And it is working. I cannot believe the level of play I am witnessing at the tournament. Some of our last years winners got into the finals or semi-finals of an OTA under 12 tournament. The kids feel like pros, playing for lesson money and they can all say they played at “REXALL’
My fondest hope is that one of our winners someday would win in a real GRAND SLAM tournament. That would be something!