In this picture: Karen Spisak and Kartik Vyas
Written by: Pierre Lamarche
***Pierre Lamarche aka the Bear spent the last two weeks following the ACE tennis players at the Ontario Provincials at Kew Gardens. Lamarche, a many time former Quebec Provincial Champion, was touched by the ambiance of the tournament and the hospitality of Club President Karen Spisak. He filed the following article.***
The last ten days have been wonderful. First, my sciatic nerve finally settled down [injury from trying to get the Old Bear in shape] and then, I got fried sitting non-stop in the Beaches in Toronto [yes Canada, they have real beaches in Toronto] at the Kew Gardens newly renovated tennis club watching the Ontario Junior Tennis Championships. I had the best seat in the house. I was sitting on the edge of the courts able to watch the matches on the five clay and five hard courts. The experience was memorable not only because the weather was great, or because it was a very well run tournament, but seeing all those kids living a wide range of emotions brought back my own fond memories of playing the Quebec Provincials back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.
At the same time I was playing the Under 13 Championships in Quebec in 1959 [junior events were 13,15 and 18], Bruce Child, the then President of Kew, got the money together to build the clubhouse. The club has existed in one form or another since the 1920’s with the ten courts being built by the city at the lake front parks. This year the clubhouse has been renovated and Kew is even more of a jewel.
As I sat talking with my former Mississippi State tennis star Jim Boyce, who is also Executive Director of the OTA, we started reminiscing [as old tennis players have a tendency to do] about our experiences playing, coaching, observing the kids at the Provincials. Names, like Raonic, Polansky, Pridham, Nestor, Sznajder, Drake, Hetherington, Simpson, were brought up. We then were joined by Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame player Harry Fauquier and a whole generation of new names were mentioned: Brown, Power, Curtis, Fontana, Ohara, Blackwood. Ontario tennis history lives at Kew Gardens.
Club President, Karen Spisak, was seen repeatedly talking to players parents, getting chairs for them showing a genuine hospitality, which is what makes these moments so special for all who participate. This tournament is a very special partnership between the community club and the Provincial association. This tournament fuels the dreams of youngsters across the province. Spending two weeks by the lake in this mystical environment in Canada’s biggest city creates memories that are etched within the soul of the participants.
It is fantastic that the club provides access in non-primetime [during the day] to the OTA to run these Provincial Championships. There are always a few disgruntled members as in any clubs, unhappy that they cannot access the courts at the time they like for two weeks. Those members should remember the true nature of the game and how fortunate they are to play at such a great club which is basically a public one.
President Karen Spisak and her board should be recognised for their contribution to the game and to the dreams of many of Ontario’s top players. Thank you for sharing your wonderful facility with us.