The 2019 Western Canadian Senior Indoor National Championship tennis tournament (the Westerns) went down May 8-12 in sunny Calgary at the city’s two prestigious tennis clubs, the Winter Club and the Glencoe Club.
Participation was the highest since the event started in 1992. Over 200 tennis players between the ages of 30 and 75+ gave it their all over the five-day, 36-category tournament.
The host clubs’ attention to detail, a full roster of experienced and welcoming volunteers, and player-friendly organization made for a first class tournament experience.
(Feature photo above: Tasha and Jeffrey Sparling from Vancouver travelled to Calgary where they both competed in the Westerns).
Irwin Tobias, Tennis Canada’s Manager responsible for Seniors Events, noted a trend in seniors tennis in Canada:
“I’m noticing that seniors participation is growing, especially with the baby boomer 50-70 age categories.
Two big highlights with this tournament were so many local players participating, and the size of the women’s entries. In the women’s over 70 singles we had 13 players.”
The Men’s Singles age 55 had the largest draw at 17 entries. Women’s Singles (WS) age 50 had 14 entries. Other larger draws were: WS 70 and WS 45 with 13 entries in each; and Women’s Doubles 45 and Men’s Singles 60 with 12 entries in each.
Canada’s top seniors came from across the country, from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, joining the Alberta contingent which made up 2/3 of all entrants.
Tennis is one of the few sports in the world where a well-developed international system of training, rankings and tournaments supports lifelong participation and global competition. The results of Westerns will feed into a point system and the selection of Canada’s national seniors tennis teams.
The tournament took place over the Mother’s Day weekend. Mothers and sons, fathers and sons, brothers, and six husband/wife couples made it a family affair.
“Hey Mom, it’s Mothers Day coming up. How about we enter the Westerns in Calgary?” In what other sport could a son and his mother enter the same national-level tournament, in different categories, on Mother’s Day weekend? Special, indeed.
Participants were a mix of seasoned and “later-to-the-game” players. Some veterans for example had decades of competitive tennis experience, and many years on Canada’s national tennis teams. The abilities, determination, fitness, and devotion to the game were inspirational. Three-hour matches were intense. Thirty-stroke rallies were breathtaking. Breakthroughs, comebacks, digs, and winners made for dramatic match play.
(Photo above: Mary Manley from Edmonton, winner of both singles and doubles in the 55+ category, reaches for a ball during singles final.)
Winners in all 36 categories, and other tournament details, can be seen here: Tennis Canada tournament page.
In most events, the top seeds came through as expected, with the occasional unseeded player breaking through to the top 3. Host province Host province Alberta had over 25 players who finished in the top 2 in their categories. BC and Ontario players were also well-represented in top finishes.
(Photo above: Men’s 60+ doubles finalists. Left to right: David Fairbotham and Scott Braley (BC, first place); Jim Leavens and David Crowthers (Alberta, second place)
Next year the Westerns will be in BC, either Vancouver or Victoria.
Alberta has added three new seniors events to its tournament schedule this year:
Irwin Tobias described other tournaments available to Canadian seniors:
“I am delighted to mention that the third annual ITF senior event is coming back to Alberta and the beautiful Osten and Victor Alberta Tennis Centre, November 7-10.
Nationally, we have many ITF senior events on the summer calendar: BC Senior Provincials in Vancouver, June 1-7; Mont Tremblant Grade “A” event, June 3-9; Canadian Grass Court Championships, June 20-23 at the Tennis Farm, north of Toronto; the London ITF event July 5-7; and the Ville de Quebec event, July 10-14. And of course our big event of the year, the Steve Stevens Senior Nationals, August 18-24 in Toronto.”
(Photos below: The banquet at the Glencoe club was an elegant and friendly affair. Below: Sandi Wright, Rob Wolfert, and Laura Hill from Alberta. Bottom: Irwin Tobias from Tennis Canada and Jandi Fraser from BC)
In his book called “What Makes Olga Run?“, about the 90-something world champion track star from Saskatchewan and BC, Bruce Grierson draws a conclusion about what drove Olga to compete into her 90s:
“You can float a million armchair theories of what motivates Olga to keep doing what she’s doing. But if you ask her, her number one answer is always the same. It’s not the travel. And it’s not the prizes. It’s not the fame. And it’s not the satisfaction of getting to occasionally whip the bony behinds of the men. ‘It’s the camaraderie.'”
Amazing performances at the senior Westerns, congratulations to all participants!
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