Many might not know this little fact, but Steve 'Old School' Benson came up with the name SIMCOE TENNIS. Yep, it was 2007 and he and I were talking and he said 'name it Simcoe Tennis.' and I said 'OK'. When someone with the experience and knowledge that Steve has tells you what to do, it's pretty simple; you just do it. And since that day Steve has continued to enrich our tennis community in countless ways.
There are few coaches as dependable as Steve, no matter what the circumstance, you can count on Steve to be there for you. I have lost track how many times he has bailed me and other coaches out at the last minute. Rugged, sturdy and dependable to the core. I always know that Steve will say yes and with a smile on his face if I ask him to cover a few lessons here and there.
Steve does have a full time job outside of tennis in insurance, and two children who are at University in Ottawa, but he still finds the time to do a few lessons and even play from time to time.
Steve has an unmatched passion for coaching tennis.
Steve works regularly with The Smith Bros. Two of Canada's best juniors. You have probably seen them training at the club. Sebastian (14) and Adrian (12). Steve has become a hitting partner, coach and overall support for them as they work their way through the; often times, challenging junior tour in Canada.
Having been there and done that himself as a top ranked junior and then later a D1 player south of the border, Steve is able to see the world of junior competitive tennis these days as 'basically no different from when I was a kid, same ruthless cheating, same overbearing parents, and same politics.' he says with a chuckle.
He told me the other day that since the day The Smith Bros complained about his slice backhand (he said they hated how it skidded so low and they couldn't get underneath it enough) he began to hit exclusively topspin off that side and as a result; 'I think I'm hitting it better than I ever have in my life.' which is a testament to Old School keeping fit and in shape to play.
Steve has also been a constant with the springtime Midhurst Tennis Club Saturday morning Juniors and Monday Night Adults. For over 10 years now we have been coaching these groups and every-time Steve has the same enthusiasm and excitement for the new batch of players that he had 10 years ago.
One day they ought to name a Tennis Centre after him in Barrie, for all he has done and all he has added to this community we are all very thankful, none perhaps more than myself. Thanks Old School, you the man!
Pam Olley Adds:
I had to include this article on Steve Benson because, having first met Steve more than thirty five years ago, I found it hard, and slightly amusing, to think of him as ‘old school’.
I got to know Steve when he was a junior player and we played on the same, now defunct, Clairlea Tennis Club STF league team. Steve would have been 16 or so and he played regularly with Gary Meanchos. I was twice his age and had recently given birth to my second son and was getting back into tennis. It was through hitting with Steve, Gary and Therese Devine that I first used some new racquet technology – the Prince Pro. I had always played with a Dunlop Maxply Fort wooden racquet. When I saw these young whippersnappers playing with a large-faced racquet I thought to myself, “If these kids like playing with those racquets, maybe I should try them”. I borrowed Steve’s racquet for a few minutes after a match and it felt like I had played with it for life......and so the next day I went out and bought one.
So many of our talented junior players go south to school and never return. I’m thrilled to hear that he (and others of his generation who returned to Canada) are still enjoying playing and are actively involved in tennis, encouraging another generation to follow in their footsteps.