Welcome to the 2016 Tennis Canada Annual Report. As your new chair, I would like to introduce myself and share with you some of my views on our year, our organization, and our outlook for the next few years. 2016 was another excellent year for Tennis Canada and more importantly for “Tennis in Canada”.
I have served on the Tennis Canada board since 2012, served as the chair of The Council of Provinces, as President of Tennis Newfoundland and Labrador, and President of Green Belt Tennis Club. I am a parent of a competitive junior and an avid player myself. This has allowed me the opportunity to observe tennis from many different points of view and hopefully to have gained a useful perspective on the special role our tennis federation plays. Tennis Canada is one of the most successful tennis federations in the world supporting tennis development across all ages and levels through its leadership and investments in local and national programs.
2016 was a year of significant change and of new energy in our organization. We welcomed four new directors, Penny Ballem, Jennifer Bishop, Stephen Mandel, and Sam Sebastian and thanked three outgoing directors. Kelly Murumets resigned as CEO at year-end and we recruited Michael Downey back starting in July 2017. We also established a new Events and Infrastructure Committee to look at how we run our major events and tournaments, and how we invest in our current and future infrastructure both internally and working closely with our provincial tennis association partners.
Tennis Canada is a complex not-for-profit organization that owns and operates some of the most successful tournaments in the tennis world, which in turn allows us to deliver our mission by working with our provincial tennis association partners, clubs, coaches, key stakeholders, and community leaders to grow and develop tennis at all levels across Canada. Managing both these activities requires a unique cross-section of skills and experience. We have a world-class team that continuously promotes, runs, and generates excellent returns from our two flagship tournaments (Rogers Cup presented by National Bank in Montreal and Toronto) and ongoing events, as well as a world-class team that is working with key partners to produce some historic results with some of the most exciting next generation players while also building new capacity and increasing participation and fan interest levels. That unique combination of business and development skills coupled with our very important and strong partnership with our provincial tennis associations is how we are and will continue growing and developing our sport in Canada.
Our vision to be “a world-leading tennis nation” includes running world-class tournaments, achieving best-in-class high-performance results by developing and supporting the most elite levels of our sport, and increasing frequent play and fan interest by building a strong base of players and fans across the country. I think as you read about our successes at the professional level, junior level, international senior level and at wheelchair tennis you will agree that our development team has done a great job in supporting and developing our athletes and sport for life tennis pathway. We also had some excellent results in our participation levels with tennis now ranked eighth in Canada and still growing. New facilities are being built and planned to provide Canadians with more places to play, with the new Osten & Victor Alberta Tennis Centre in Calgary a great example of what can happen when passionate and skilled leaders take on major projects.
Michael Downey will be rejoining us in July of 2017 after spending nearly three years as the CEO of the British Lawn Tennis Association. Michael’s recent experiences include working with one of the world’s leading tennis federations at the highest level of the sport to build grassroots tennis, enhancing facilities and participation in the UK. I look forward to working with him and building upon the strong base we have already established. Building more facilities and making tennis more accessible to more people in more places will be one of our challenges. I feel our relationship with the provinces, clubs and communities across this country have never been stronger. Working together, and aligning our resources and strategies will be our collective key to success in building our sport and helping establish a strong culture of success for tennis in Canada.
Looking back on this past year, I think what struck me the most was the passion held by our team, provincial tennis association partners, clubs, community leaders, coaches, officials, volunteers and key partners, and our collective deep understanding of what our mission and values really are. I said in my opening that it was a good year for “Tennis in Canada” and that was a very important statement. I know from talking and working with this great team and all of our partners that they understand it is about just that: “Tennis in Canada”.