The Steve Stevens Senior Nationals has come and gone for another year, this year hosted by six different clubs in Toronto. This is a huge event in Canadian tennis with over 500 participants and 1000 matches. Based on all accounts, this tournament is a memorable and gratifying experience. As Dave Crowther mentions in his entertaining recount below, next year the senior nationals is in our neighborhood, in Vancouver, so start training now and plan to play!
Jen Cherneski, of the Royal Glenora Club in Edmonton, earned the top result for Alberta players. This was her third year in a row at senior nationals. Jen came 3rd in the women’s 45+ draw and placed 3/4 in doubles with partner Susie Lang-Gould, just the second year they have played together.
“Teams for the ITF Worlds Seniors Championships are based on the previous years (2018) results, and I’m fortunate to be playing on the team for the Young Seniors Championships in South Beach Miami this year, October 20-25. Next year the Young Seniors Championships are set to be in Umag, Croatia in September.” (Jen Cherneski)
The photo above includes most of the Alberta team (left to right): Joe Forrayi, Gillian Shea, Sarah Widdowson, Jen Cherneski, Neil Elliot, Susan Wright, Jane Wansbrough-Philip, and Tristan Gilbertson. Missing are David and Bonnie Crowther, Jim Leavens, Ivan Quintero, Don Yee and Stan Mystek.
Photo below: Jen Cherneski with her awards, and with her doubles partner. (Tennis Canada Photos)
As the top-performing Albertan at the senior nationals this year, Jen reflected on her experience.
Preparation: “To prepare I did a combination of private and group lessons, practice matches with various players, and I hit on the ball machine a few times to practice some specific shots (including the slice which is a shot I’m trying to improve for clay tennis). To tolerate long matches in the humidity and heat, I also do my best to keep my fitness level high. I was fortunate enough to go to Vancouver in July when my son played in the Stanley Park tournament. So I took full advantage of the opportunity to train with my doubles partner, who lives there, and also hit with some of my friends who play on the Canadian teams. I feel thankful I have been able to meet such a great, supportive network of friends through tennis.”
Highlights: “Many of the senior players impressed me, not only because they fight so hard for so many hours out on the court, but also because when you chat with some of the older senior players, it is clear that they their love for the game is still alive. I hope I am as passionate about tennis when I’m in my 80s! One 80-year old even threw his racquet!
I also enjoyed watching my friends play. One friend played a four-hour, stressful, three-set match and had to bandage her hand because her blisters were so bad, but went on to win the match. I also loved watching my doubles partner, Susie, play and win her finals match in nationals. There was some fantastic tennis and watching was as fun as playing!”
Dave Crowther provided this fine accounting of his experience at the nationals this year.
“It’s been over a week now since playing in the Steve Stevens Senior National Tennis Tournament, held in Toronto August 18 to 24, and my therapist says it’s probably OK for me to start talking about the experience as long as I have some Kleenex boxes handy.
It was my fourth consecutive trip to Senior Nationals which gets bigger every year (over 500 competitors this year!). My goal has been to try to get on the 60+ national team which competes at the world team championships every summer (this year it was in Portugal) and to which end performing well at nationals is a must. I haven’t succeeded in four tries (those guys are good) but I have gotten to play and become friends with some awesome tennis players from across the country.
If anyone is considering playing senior nationals I would encourage them to do so. You get to pit yourself against the country’s best in your age group to see how you stack up, and when you’re done (assuming you didn’t win) you get to watch some high quality tennis.
Irwin Tobias and his team do a great job of organizing the event every year. The host clubs are very posh, giving you a chance to feel yourself one of the hoi polloi for a week. There are two fabulous meals included (not to mention a hat and a thermos cup this year). There is a feed-in consolation too, right up to the quarter finals, which means that anywhere you lose in the main draw (except the semis and the final) you still have a shot at 5th place. And it’s just different, playing your own kind for a change instead of the young whippersnappers you usually find yourself up against locally.
Thinking back on my first timid foray into senior nationals 3 years ago in Ottawa, I remember the moment when I realized this was a different kind of tournament. I was looking at the draw posted on the wall and was amused to see that someone had thoughtfully attached a pair of reading glasses on a string. I thought, “Yes! These are my people.”
Next year will be in Vancouver and that’s as close as it ever comes for us Albertans. So make a resolution to play Steve Stevens next August and start doing drills right now and hitting the gym 5 times a week. You might succeed where others have failed.”
By the way, Dave did very well at the nationals. He made it to the last eight in the main draw, his best finish yet. His burning fire for tennis may have been temporarily doused, but the embers are still alive and he will soon be heating up the courts again in his quest to make the national team.
(Photo below: David and Bonnie Crowther)
A Tennis Canada article reported this tournament highlight:
“There were plenty of familiar and intriguing participants but none more so than Robert ‘Bob’ Bedard. Bedard was the last Canadian to win the Rogers Cup men’s singles title back in 1958. He competed in the Steve Stevens Senior Nationals Over 80s bracket and many of his family members also took part in the event’s various age groups.
The article also mentions the over-80 brother and sister duo, Guido and Inge Weber, who both won their over-80s singles draws.
For more great photos and results, go here to the Tennis Canada seniors facebook page, and here for tournament results.
Great work to all of the Alberta seniors who played in Toronto at the Steve Stevens Senior Nationals this year. Thanks especially to Jen and David for sharing their stories and encouraging us all to join in next year in Vancouver!
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