Stacey Allaster became the first woman to be named as the Tournament Director of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships. However, none before the Niagara Region native served as the Ontario Tennis Association’s (OTA) Director of Player Development and manager of the province’s tennis team at the 1989 Canada Summer Games in Saskatoon, Sask.
Allaster remembers thinking the summer of 1989 would be “the closest I will ever get to an Olympic Games experience.” She says her historic tennis career that began by sweeping courts at the Welland Tennis Club as a child proves that “Anything is possible.”
In a N22 Action Newsletter story last year, Allaster also told writer Christopher Seguin that the Canada Games was, “An incredible experience and it will forever be one of the most memorable sporting experiences in my professional career.”
This summer, the Welland Tennis Club (WTC) will jointly host the 2022 Canada Games tennis competition with the Niagara-on-the-Lake Tennis Club (NOTLTC). Organizers are already hard at work to create a competitive environment where anything will, indeed, be possible.
The Canada Games, governed by the Canada Games Council, are operated by a Host Society in a province’s local community and are considered the highest level of national competition for Canadian athletes. The first Canada Games were held in 1969 and they are a multi-sport competition that alternates between winter and summer venues. Featuring over 20 different sports, the 2022 summer competition will be staged Aug. 6 to 21.
The tennis tournament will be split between Niagara- on-the-Lake and Welland, running from Aug. 6 to 13.
“This is an exciting opportunity for our two clubs and the Niagara Region,” said Rosemary Goodwin, board member at NOTLTC and co-lead for the tennis competition alongside Marianne Groat, a top tennis player during an illustrious career in the 1980s. “Enthusiasm is high at both clubs with many members committed to 36 hours of volunteer service.”
Tennis Canada will be responsible for organizing the competition including qualifying players and providing a tournament referee and national-level officials. Each provincial team will consist of four young women and four young men, all under the age of 19. Teams will accumulate points similar to a Davis Cup competition. Matches will be best two out of three sets with no ad scoring.
OTA’s Manager of Player Development Kartik Vyas has overseen the selection of several Team Ontario squads and recognizes the importance of the Canada Games. “The OTA is a strong supporter of the Canada Games. For many athletes, the Games are the pinnacle event in a player’s junior career – essentially, a junior Olympics! It’s a wonderful experience for our best young players. They gain valuable experience in competing in high-level, high stakes competition and can also enjoy being part of a larger team, something that does not occur very often in our sport.”
In total, the two community clubs offer 10 lighted hard courts and many months of planning to ensure every aspect of the competition and the spectator experience is first class. NOTLTC’s six courts will be re-surfaced, and lights will be installed on two newer courts this spring to ensure all six are prepared for night play. The WTC’s four courts were resurfaced last year.
The federal government will provide $29 million to build and refurbish facilities for the 21 sports that make up the Games. The Province of Ontario, Sport Canada, host municipalities and Brock University, site of the athlete’s village and other major facilities, will also provide financial support.
“Major tennis competitions are not new for our town,” Goodwin concluded. “The Canadian Open championship was held at Niagara-on-the-Lake every year from 1895 to 1912, except in 1905. And from 1884 to 1924, the Niagara International tournament attracted champions and Hall of Fame players who celebrated the end of the summer season here following the U.S. Open.”
Anything will be possible as the tennis community converges on the Niagara Region this summer when a new chapter in its notable tennis history will be written.
For more information on the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games, click here. To purchase tickets, click here. ONTENNIS.ca will provide a full report as the tennis competition unfolds. Make sure you get out and support Team Ontario!