Welcome to the International Club of Canada
"Hands across the net, friendship across the ocean "
To promote friendship and sportsmanship in tennis between Canada and other countries by hosting tennis events with other IC countries and supporting tennis development in Canada by providing mentorship for young tennis players.
The first meeting of Active Members of the International Lawn Tennis Club of Canada was held at the Albany Club in Toronto on Wednesday, August 11, 1965, at 12.30 p.m. Laird Watt, the first president of the Club, was unable to attend and Gilbert Nunns chaired the meeting. In addition to Gilbert those attending the meeting in person or by proxy were familiar names in Canadian tennis history: Peter Barnard, John Bassett, Bob Barnard, François Godbout, Bruce Harrison, Sydney Hermant, Jim Macken, Harry Marpole and Walter Martin. Don Fontana, captain of the Club, agreed to approach the I.C. of the USA for a match in 1966. There were discussions of a black tie dinner, a match against a touring team from England and plans to participate in I.C. matches in Holland. The Canadian I.C. was up and operating. It had officially received “International Club” recognition just six weeks before, at the annual meeting of the Council of I.C.’s held each year during the fortnight of Wimbledon. It joined thirteen other nations with International Clubs, all existing with a common interest in the game of tennis.
The annual match with the USA Club has been the main regular event of the Club since that time, with matches alternating each year between the Donalda Club and various locations in the USA. The Piping Rock Club on Long Island, The Merion Cricket Club in Philadelphia, The West Side Tennis Club on Long Island. In 1971 the matches were divided in an open event competing for the Proctor Cup and a seniors event for the new Lawrence Baker Trophy. Women’s matches were included in the late 90’s and starting in the year 2000 teams will play for the Carole Graebner Trophy.
There is no doubt that tournaments for the Windmill, Christiane Mercelis, and Columbus Trophies represent the highlights of the I.C. Movement. On these occasions many of the now 42 International Clubs meet in team competition. In these tournaments old friendships across the net and across the nations are renewed, and new ones made. Equally enjoyable are the I.C. Tours where teams of I.C. players tour other countries at the invitation of their I.C.’s, or host visiting teams.
This brief review of the Club’s history would not be complete without an expression of gratitude to the spirit behind the creation of the I.C. Club of Canada, the Late Bruce Harrison and those who have served on the Club’s executive, particularly its presidents: Laird Watt, Walter Martin, John Proctor, Jim Skelton, Frank Mott-Trille, Brian Flood and David Dimmer.
Taking Advantage of a Challenging Time - Increasing the Value Add Proposition for USIC Members
The International Tennis Club of the USA (‘USIC") has utilized the downtime created by Covid to strengthen its operations and improve its "value add" proposition, so that when we fully emerge out of the Pandemic, it does so as a stronger organization. With over 500 members and a sprawling geographic reach, the USIC faces challenges maintaining membership engagement and annual dues payments even absent the restrictive conditions we have all been operating under since March 2019. As the Pandemic took hold and disrupted the tennis world, the USIC Board of Directors began to strengthen its operating Committees by increasing their size and changing their focus. For example, the Membership Committee tackled the issues of criteria for membership, candidate assessment, attracting younger members and responding to the internal demographics - age, gender and geographic locations. We also launched a mentoring effort built off of Australia’s "Beyond the Tour" initiative as a way of assisting players at the end of their tour playing days and hopefully attracting them to join the USIC.
The Captains reviewed and restated the criteria for selecting individual match captains, budgeting, team selection and creating more playing opportunities. We formed a Communications/Website Committee to improve the outreach to members by better utilizing our website for content and accessibility of information related to activities of the USIC and broader IC Community. One of our members, Joel Drucker, conducted an interview with Chris Everthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOXpuuOwEn8 that was accessed through our website and we have plans for future interviews, roundtable discussions etc. to bring novel discussion of tennis topics of interest to our members. Also, improving our communication of what the IC Council and fellow IC Clubs are doing increases the pride and satisfaction of being part of the IC Community as members learn about the Jean Borotra Award, Philanthropy initiatives, and our seat at the table with the ITF and other major tennis governing bodies addressing major issues impacting our sport.
Overriding all our discussions has been the "value add" proposition that would attract new members while retaining active and dues paying members. The overwhelming conclusion was to prioritize increasing the playing opportunities available to all age groups and playing levels within our USIC. By continuing to participate in IC Council Events, adding "USIC Days at Tour Events"- (Delray Beach, Miami Open, Indian Wells to name a few), "Come and Play" at prestigious clubs and tour venues, creating inter/intra regional competition within the USIC, maintaining our existing "Cup" matches with Canada, Mexico, Great Britain and France, and adding international "friendly" matches, our expectations are to provide a minimum of 20-25 playing opportunities in any 12 month calendar period. Also, we are encouraging our members to reach out to fellow members in their area for informal hitting and lunch/dinner engagements. We have already held two "Come and Play " events at the Fitzgerald Tennis Center in Washington DC, home of the Citi Open. Not only did our members get to play on the stadium courts but we were able to raise money at the event and present a sizeable check to the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation.
Other initiatives to enhance the USIC membership experience include increasing the number of tennis facilities to provide reciprocal privileges to our members, Service Awards for recognizing our members impact on the USIC, discounts for tennis equipment and apparel as well as logo offerings, and improving our relationships with the national and regional tennis governing bodies in the US. We are also working on ways to facilitate "match making" for our members here and abroad as well as streamlining a procedure for welcoming travellers to the US from other IC’s.
While we have been working steadily on these and other initiatives to improve the USIC experience for our members, we are actively preparing to host many IC participants at our IC Week scheduled for August 21-26, 2022 to celebrate our USIC’s 90th Anniversary. We are also planning to host the IC Rod Laver Junior Challenge Worldwide Finals at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club in California in November, 2023 that had been postponed from November, 2021.
Our Challenge remains to not only grow and strengthen our USIC but to assist in any way to make sure the IC Community through all its member IC’s remains strong and viable. We encourage all IC’s to go through the deliberate restorative process that we have gone through in the US as changing conditions in our sport, the ability to hold international competition and the operational challenges of maintaining a viable IC have made such a re-examination a necessity if the IC Community is going to continue to offer its members the unique and enduring tennis experience it has done for so many decades.
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