Tennis, Family and the Quaker Park Tennis Club

by Laurel Hilton-Devitt

May 2022

As the Quaker Park Tennis Club in Peterborough celebrates it’s 100th anniversary this summer, story writer and long-time club member Laurel Hilton-Devitt reflects on how the club, its coaches and the larger tennis community played an important role in her, and her family’s lives.

As kids, my brother Rob and I were fortunate enough to be enrolled in every summer camp imaginable in the Peterborough area, from computer and sports camps to ones focused on drama and art. Our favourite, however, was tennis camp at the Quaker Park Tennis Club (QPTC), which sparked a lifelong passion for tennis and unforeseen future opportunities. Our family has enjoyed the club and the wider world of tennis but best of all, the sport has always kept us together.

Black and white photo of the Quaker Oats Company park and tennis courts.
QPTC began in 1922 when the Quaker Oats Company created a park across the river from their factory, with two tennis courts.

Our Dad introduced us to tennis, but the QPTC tennis camp was the gateway to what became a family obsession. The club fostered a community spirit in which players of every level were welcome. Even when we weren’t going to tennis camp, we were constantly playing and hanging out at ‘the club’ – taking lessons from fantastic coaches or watching our dad play in the Edwards League.

I remember watching as my Dad and my brother fought it out for the Quaker Doubles Men’s crown. I was even runner up in the B Division Mixed Tourney with my Dad. I have fond memories of social BBQs and the post-clinic popsicles. Our Mom also took a keen interest in tennis – even if it was only when one of us was playing. She would watch from the clubhouse in a shady spot and take us to Dairy Queen afterwards for our favourite treats.

I always loved looking at the old black and white photographs up on the fireplace mantle in the clubhouse – the men and ladies in their tennis whites. I imagined the epic battles for the trophies. For a smaller Ontario city to foster a community of tennis players where hockey usually dominates, speaks to the ongoing attraction the club holds.

Today the club has 5 Hartru tennis courts and the original clubhouse, with recent upgrades, is still in use.

In 2001 my dad packed the car, and we took a drive to York University in Toronto, home of the Canadian Open, then known as the The Rothman’s, later the Du Maurier Open, then The Roger’s Cup and now the National Bank Open. My Dad remembers going out to York with his Mom when they had a temporary stadium, and they took portable seats with them. Rob tried out for the ball crew, and I joined the Promotions volunteering group; anything to be closer to the glamourous world of professional tennis! As a family, we have put in over 30 years of volunteering time for Tennis Canada.

Quaker Tennis Club 1962 Kawartha League Champions pose with trophy.
Going back to the early days, the club has always produced some high-calibre tennis players.

Growing up it became clear that my brother would potentially have the chance to secure an Academic/Tennis scholarship to a college in the United States. As part of his application, he explained how the QPTC club Manager Ted Lucas and his junior coaching staff moulded him into the player he became. All the junior coaches at the club have had some level of OTA coaching experience. We filmed Rob hitting on the clay at Quaker and explaining his hometown tournament successes (including at the High School OFSSA tournament). He was granted the scholarship at West Virginia and went on to co-Captain the team and winning 2 Atlantic Division Conference titles.

My parents were most proud of his All-American academic success. After graduating, Rob came back to Canada and coached in Toronto for the Toronto Tennis Academy. He also coached the National under 12 team. Over the next 5 years Rob got his level 3 coaching qualifications through the Ontario Tennis Association and Tennis Canada.

I moved to England in 2016. I have since travelled to many European tournaments and Grand Slams and even married an avid tennis player and fan. We play every chance we get, even outdoors in December, something you definitely would not be able to do in six feet of snow in Canada. Whenever I’m home or whenever I have a visit from Dad or Rob, tennis is always on the agenda at our London club or at Quaker Park.

The lasting impact of Quaker Park on our family will endure. I can’t imagine my childhood without the club. It was connected to so many memories and enduring relationships. As Quaker Park Tennis Club celebrates its centennial, I hope our family story repeats itself with the younger generation taking the club into its next 100 years. The emergence of the current crop of Canadian tennis stars is inspiring young kids to pick up racquets and I truly hope the club can capture the interest and harness the developing passion for the sport amongst young Ontarians.

Laurel Hilton-Devitt grew up in Peterborough and played tennis with her family and friends at the Quaker Park Tennis Club for many years. Laurel went to Queen’s University and, after graduating, completed a marketing internship at Flare Magazine, Rogers Media in Toronto. She completed a graduate marketing certificate at the University of Toronto and joined Rogers full-time, working in Marketing for the Rogers Magazine group with titles such as Maclean’s, Canadian Business, Today’s Parent and Chatelaine. She later moved to a Marketing position with PWC. Laurel now lives in London, England and still plays tennis at a local club there.

Quaker Park Tennis Club as it is in 2021.
Nestled on the banks of the Otonabee River, the club has been the tennis hub of Peterborough for 100 years!

Quaker Park Tennis Club is Celebrating 100 Years

On June 4, 2022, Peterborough’s Quaker Park Tennis Club extends an open invitation in celebrating its 100th anniversary with various community and member events.

QPTC began when in 1922 the Quaker Oats Company created a park across the river from their factory, with two tennis courts for its employees to play for free. In time they added to this park with a baseball diamond, horseshoe pits and in 1937 a new clubhouse. The original clubhouse (while recently renovated) remains to this day.

With 5 Hartru courts nestled by the river, this is a most picturesque tennis club offering various leagues, social or competitive games, tennis clinics and group or private lessons.

Please join us on June 4, 2022, at 10:00am for celebratory events including an exhibition game played in period costume, Try Tennis opportunity, OTA Smash cage, history memorabilia, refreshments and prize draws. Rain date is June 5, 2022.

Please visit for more details.