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Rayside-Balfour Canadians
Friday, Aug. 18, 2017
Sudbury Indoor Tennis anyone??
2016-10-13
by Randy Pascal

I’m not sure that Sudbury could have ever been described as a hotbed of tennis action.

That said, the 1970’s did spawn the construction of what was then the Sudbury Squash and Racquet Club on Falconbridge Road, which later became the “Exhibition Centre”, and finally home, until just recently, to the Sudbury Indoor Soccer Centre.

As for the tennis folks, they are alive and well, running their programs from the Sudbury Indoor Tennis Centre on Cypress Street, adjacent to Queen’s Athletic Field. The challenge, for now, lies largely in public awareness, and to some extent, dispelling myths that tennis is restricted to those who frequent the “country clubs” of an era that is now several generations old.

“What we are trying to do is to get people to know that we are not an exclusive club,” stated president Miro Ejem recently. “We are a not-for-profit organization and are trying to get as many people involved as possible, especially young children.”

With that in mind, the Tennis Club recently welcomed a representative of the Ontario Tennis Association, Ethan Kern, to town. The project manager of the “Raise the Net” Trillium funded initiative, Kern was on hand at the “tennis bubble” with various gadgets and demonstrations.

“We travel around to communities, promoting membership in local clubs and tennis in general,” said Kern. If the indoor courts were long viewed as the domain of the upper class, the outdoor courts strewn across the City have always been home to a sport that requires very little financial investment to, at the very least, take a crack at your best Milos Raonic impression – which is actually one of the challenges, according to Kern.

“Working with proper equipment is quite important,” he noted. “A lot of the kids want to play “real tennis”, with “real equipment”, but that doesn’t really help anybody out. Parents have a tendancy to go out with their kids, put them on a baseline with an adult-sized racquet, and start throwing ball at them.”

“It’s totally unenjoyable for everybody, because nobody can rally,” added Kern. “After twenty minutes, everybody is angry and leaves.” That, of course, is the last thing that Ejem and his group want to see.

“It’s a sport for life, keeps you in shape, and has a nice social aspect to it,” said Ejem. “Some people may not be doing it for competition, but play to just enjoy it. It’s such an easy sport to do. But it is always nice when somebody who introduces you to a sport knows how to play. You can enjoy any sport that much more.”

A long-time tennis aficionado, Ejem welcomes the changes that the sport has incorporated in trying to ensure that the next generation are not turned off at their first foray to the court. “There’s now different types of tennis balls,” he explained. “For very young children, it’s a ball that bounces much less. In the past, you only had one type of ball, and kids would get frustrated. Now, it’s customized to young people.”

“And if people happen to fall in love with the sport and want to go further, well, we have a coach here.” In fact, Paul Robert is in the midst of enjoying a nice string of success with his pupils. Bishop Alexander Carter graduate and former SDSSAA champion Jason Boudreau has entered his sophomore year with the William Woods University Owls in Missouri, a teammate of North Bay native Carla White, also a Robert protegee.

Collège Notre-Dame product and local multi-sport athlete Sebastien Dugas-Ruest has successfully navigated his way into the mix with the Université de Montreal Carabins men’s tennis team, a squad which attracted some sixty players competing for just ten competing spots.

“He is the 11th player on the team, a practice player at this point,” noted Robert. “But the coaches have told him that there is an excellent chance that he will be on the roster in January. At least he’s practicing with the players on the team.”

Despite the fact that few young athletes in Sudbury jump full-force in tennis at a very young age, Robert has continued to work closely with those who dream of moving on to the next level. “I spent a lot of time with Jason, practicing a lot during the summer and working on a few things.”

“The good news, this year, is that he and Carla are both playing matches,” Robert continued. “I’m really happy for them.” On this particular Saturday, the next wave of young talent are on hand at the Indoor Tennis Centre, including 14 year old grade 10 CND athlete Sebastien Bouchard.

“This year, I’m focusing on my serve, especially my second serves,” said Bouchard. “I would like to reach the finals, and maybe even win, at least for the city championships.” With 2016 SDSSAA champion Darren DePaolis now moved on to the post-secondary ranks, Bouchard sees the field as fairly wide open, especially when it comes to the individual competitions which he most enjoys.

“I prefer singles, because it’s easier to deal with if you make mistakes,” he said. “I don’t have to worry about positioning according to what my partner does – I can just worry about myself.” The Indoor Tennis Centre is in the midst of launching another set of seasonal programs, with details as follows:

Junior Fall Program: Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. – October 15th to December 17th; Sundays from 12:30 p.m. until 2:00 p.m. – October 16th to December 18th

Adult Fall Programs
Beginner/Novice: Sundays from 2:00 until 3:30 p.m. – October 16th to November 6th; Mondays from 6:30 until 8:00 p.m. – October 17th to November 7th
Novice/Intermediate: Wednesdays from 6:30 until 8:00 p.m. – October 19th to November 9th

More information can be obtained by contacting someone at the Indoor Tennis Centre (705-688-1414), or by visiting their website at www.sudburytennis.ca.

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