***In this article, ONcourt continues to profile Canada’s tennis academies. Niagara Academy was established as a tennis academy in 1997 by Ms. Lezlie Murch. It is now a sports academy currently offering programs in tennis, golf and football with academic programs from grade 4 to University Preparation. Students are given the personalized attention and support they need to train and achieve academic excellence and to develop the fundamentals of leadership, championship and true success.
Niagara Academy’s unique program has attracted students from around the world. The school, which runs year round, also offers a homestay family program which helps to ensure the well-being and happiness of each student. ***
ONcourt: Whose idea and vision was it to start the Niagara Academy of Tennis (NAT)?
Niagara Academy: Founder Lezlie Murch wanted to create a place in Ontario, where athletic and academic excellence could be combined. Lezlie had observed that families spent a lot of time driving between schools and tennis courts. Combining both on the same site is a great help to both parents and student athletes. At the same time, she also wanted to provide tennis training for her own son and ensure maximum usage of available court time during the daytime hours.
ONcourt: What is the philosophy of the NAT?
Niagara Academy: The philosophy of the NAT is to develop young athletes and help them reach their personal best. We strive to combine athletic training with academics and to prepare students for a successful future. This is accomplished by the extremely caring, professional and experienced team of coaches, teachers and supporting staff members.
ONcourt: You seem to have a truly international feel to the academy with students from all over the world coming to be a part of the NAT. How have you been able to reach out to so many different countries and students?
Niagara Academy: We reach students internationally through our recruiting agents in other countries. We also have a Recruiting Director at the school who coordinates this. Since the school has been established for 15 years now, we see a lot of returning students and have recommendations and referrals from families and friends of students who have attended NAT. Word of mouth and referrals have helped us grow, not only in the sports we offer, but in the academic division as well.
ONcourt: Niagara Academy has developed some of Canada’s top talents over the years, while being very successful at providing students with the opportunity to receive scholarships to the NCAA. What are some of the accomplishments the academy is most proud of?
Niagara Academy: Over the years, we have been able to help hundreds of students achieve success in competition and reach their personal goals. Nearly 100% of our student graduates have attained scholarships and then moved on to successful careers. We have developed champions year after year and continue to grow.
ONcourt: NAT is the only tennis academy in Canada that has a school on site to accommodate the busy schedule of its players. Tell us about the NAT School and how it has been successful over the years.
Niagara Academy: AT NAT we take a holistic approach to learning. Our program meets the needs of the whole student: athletics, academics, personal well-being and family life. Students receive individualized attention and study the core courses they require to graduate and to compete for a university scholarship.
Throughout their academics at Niagara Academy, students have a focused direction with an emphasis on preparing for post secondary education. We integrate guidance and University preparation classes into our schedule. We don’t want to just get them to university, we want them to do well while they are there. Our teaching staff is specialized in the subjects they teach and our class sizes are small. This helps our students shine academically. Niagara Academy is an inspected private school authorized to grant credits by the Ministry of Education in Ontario.
ONcourt: Niagara Academy seems to be growing into a multi-sport academy – servicing the Niagara region in multiple different athletics and education. What are the next steps for Niagara Academy to continue its growth?
Niagara Academy: At NAT we continue to build on a formula that works for our niche. Over the last few years, we have expanded our programs, facilities, coaches and teachers. While we branch out, we maintain our uniqueness and NAT family. Since we offer our program to the local market, we are exploring more locations and expanding our progressive tennis division with the addition of more courts.