Many of us can recall, as kids, the first spring day when our bikes came out and we raced around the neighbourhood thrilled with the freedom and joy of adventure. Today it seems many people get the same thrill when they grab their racquet and head to the Leaside Tennis Club, just as soon as the ice is off the courts.
The Leaside Tennis Club began as two humble courts created in 1944 by Matt Sayliss and his neighbours Norm Lamport, Al Ogg and Norm Ramsey. The club was founded officially in 1948 and according to its charter, granted in 1968, its aim was “to encourage, foster and promote the game of tennis.”
Today’s club with six courts sandwiched between Trace Manes Park and the Library hosts many member events appealing to a variety of ages and skill levels. Lessons, team league play, tournaments, a junior carnival, watching Wimbledon with strawberries and cream, welcoming special guests like Milos Raonic, who visited in 2017, Friday Night Lights’ round robin social play with instruction and the ever popular House League are all big draws.
Although the 2018 tennis season got off to a slow start with an ice storm and then torrential rain, House League finally started the first week of May.
House League is one of the Club’s most popular events – and growing. With 160 members signing up this spring and 96 members playing every Wednesday, scheduling requires some fancy foot work. As Jim Robertson, a House League captain says, “captains need to juggle many variables including skill level, who can play early at 6 p.m., who prefers later games at 9 p.m. and members’ availability between May and September.”
Like all the events at the club, House League is organized and run by volunteers: an equal mix of women and men, with husband and wife Barbara and Eric Shapiro as co-captains. A number of dedicated members have volunteered for years. Like Tony Saunders, who has been the VP and director of House League for six years. “Implementing a few simple changes like encouraging volunteers to be co-captains sharing the scheduling load, occasionally scheduling mixed courts (men and women partners) rather than every week and providing opportunities for skill development at Friday Night Lights’ round robins contributes to House League running very smoothly,” he comments.
Another stellar volunteer is John Drummond. He was a newcomer to tennis when he joined in 2003 at the urging of Peter McMurtry, the organizer of ‘The Grumpy Men’ group. “I joined House League to strengthen my game and meet other members and it worked,” he says. “Last year I accepted the role of convener to assist with balancing the teams and ensure that things run smoothly. You’ll find me at the courts every Wednesday from 5:45 p.m. until after 10 p.m.”
To learn more about Leaside Tennis Club, visit leasidetennis.org.