Ukraine Strong Forever, Let Us Not Forget


Editor’s note: Tennis is a sport of love. The international tennis community has rallied against Putin’s aggression in Ukraine. Our parent company, All Canadian Sports Management, is home to two coaches’ families, which includes children from Ukraine: Kyrylo Tabunshchyk and Kyrylo Kudyma. They are part of our Canadian tennis family, and as such, their plight is ours. 

My various roles in tennis have allowed me to meet individuals who inspire me to aim for greatness on an ongoing basis. One of these individuals is Kyrylo Tabunshchyk, a Ukrainian who hails from Lviv, the last major city in the country, before reaching Poland. The city is now serving as the pathway for hundreds of thousands looking to flee the advancing Russian destruction force.

Lidiya Shapovalova (Zoya’s Mom) Sofia & Anna Tabunshchyk

Kyrylo met his wife Zoya, also from Lviv, on a tour bus to Italy over New Year 1999. They wasted no time and got married in 1999 in LVIV. In January 2001, they welcomed their first daughter Viktoriya. Kyrylo had difficulty finding a decent job to sustain his young family as a theoretical physicist. After finishing his Ph.D., he applied to Queen’s University for a Postdoc position. He got a NATO-supported grant to come and work in Canada. Viktoriya and Zoya came with him. 

Kyrylo was at Queen’s University as an Associate Professor for the first semester and lectured for graduate students at the Department of Physics. Kyrylo juggled fast-paced competitive research with teaching graduate students. He also ensured his family’s well-being in Kingston, Ontario’s utterly new environment. The family borrowed money to come to Canada and afford their transition to their new country. Zoya, who had an MD degree and a tennis background, worked at a cafeteria washing dishes and cutting vegetables. Luckily, life improved with Zoya becoming a lab assistant, and she got her MSc degree from the Department of Pathology and Molecular medicine.

Kyrylo & wife Zoyaing a lab assistant, and she got her MSc degree from the Department of Pathology and Molecular medicine.

Three years later, when his NATO grant finished, Kyrylo found a position at the National Institute of Nanotechnology in Edmonton and Zoya at the University of Alberta. Viktotiya [Vita] started taking lessons at the Saville Sports Centre at the age of 5. Kyrylo volunteered in the tennis program, took a Tennis Canada instructor course, and assisted in some progressive tennis programs. 


Roman & Sofia

Kyrylo wanted to provide Vita with the opportunity to reach her full tennis potential, so he reached out to me about coming to work for Ace Tennis in May of 2008. On a Saturday morning, sitting in my office here walks in Kyrylo for his interview, and I am fascinated because he does not have the body of a tennis player/coach. He looks more like a linebacker for the Chicago Bears, but his aura is overwhelming. I quickly find out that I am talking with someone extremely educated and whose story is simply fascinating. I am impressed but cannot figure out how he will fit our organization. He then pulled out a CD of his young daughter Vita who he had coached with the help of Tennis Canada online videos. Within five minutes, we agreed that he and his family would join us a few months later.

The rest is history; Vita became Canadian National Champion, participated in team Canada in U14 Word cup and U16 Fed cup, won Quest for Gold for highest national and international levels athletes. Vita played on the junior national team with Leyla Fernandez went to MIT, where she is finishing her master’s degree in 2023. Meanwhile, Kyrylo took over Ace’s progressive tennis program, won the Tennis Canada Coaching Excellence Award in 2013 and received the Paul & Joyce Chapnick Progressive development Award in 2014. 

His role and responsibilities within Ace Tennis grew as he became vice-president responsible for operating over 50 Provincial, national and international events. Kyrylo has now become vice-president of All Canadian, Ace’s parent company overlooking partner clubs in Southwest Ontario, managing the company’s growing events and assuming the role of head tennis coach at the lovely Milton Tennis Club. Kyrylo and Zoya, who now leads a research lab in the Department of Medicine at McMaster University, have kept busy on the personal front as well with the addition of aspiring tennis stars Anna [Edmonton, 2008], Sofia [Hamilton,2015] and Roman [Hamilton, 2020].  Kyrylo’s mom, Zoya’s Mother and Father and most of their family – one of them in the military service in Kyiv as a colonel, at the front row of defense against the advancing Russian army are in Vasylkiv, Kyiv, near the airport that is being bombarded continuously by Russians. 

In talking with Zoya, a no-nonsense woman:  

“I am furious, I do not understand how is this possible, where is the humanity, how can people willingly kill other people? Civilians, kids, women, elderly. WHY???”  When asked what we could do, “Support Ukraine by any means you can, donate, talk about it, read about it, but most important DO NOT FORGET, DO NOT GET USED TO IT….”

A closing statement from our Kyrylo,

“The war in Ukraine is a crime against humanity! It make me feel devastated, sad and very angry! Kids, women, elderly, whole families are being killed every day!!! Why is this happening? How can Russian invaders do it and live with it?’

Please take a moment to visit our below resources.

ITF Article: Tennis Unites for Peace Initiative To Support Ukraine

CNN Interview: Ukrainian tennis player, Elina Svitolina

Topspin Article: Dayana Yastremska, Who Escaped Ukraine Days Before Competing In Lyon



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