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.
After a break of three years thanks to Covid, the IC Rod Laver Worldwide junior challenge is up and running again. Qualifying takes place this year on five continents with the winners going through to the finals which are to be held in California in November 2023.
We once again staged the African qualifying event with the hope initially that we could assemble more teams and with the aim of improving the quality of play. We had extended invitations to Israel and Ethiopia but, sadly, the cost of airfares prohibited them from accepting. We had also invited Zimbabwe but due to the extremely poor economic conditions there, they too were unable to accept.
However, we were able to welcome both Madagascar and Namibia both of whom had played before, but not for far too long. So, along with the IC SA team and a team from the Tennis SA Development hubs, we had four teams competing. As expected, the IC SA and Madagascar teams were far too strong for both the others, so it left these two to battle out for the prestige and honour of representing Africa in the final.
It was a final befitting the occasion. It was the most closely contested final on record with some long intriguing matches where a point here and there could have gone the other way and made a different result possible. The two girls singles were split but then the IC SA boys took charge winning both their matches. It was left to the girls to win their doubles and IC SA were through to the final.
Having Madagascar here improved the quality of the final but sadly, both the other teams were outclassed. It must be stated that the Tennis SA Development team showed a marked improvement in quality and ability than the similar team of three years ago. This proves that the work being done in the local townships where these Development hubs are staged, is bearing fruit. Long may this annual improvement continue. They beat Namibia convincingly on the last day.
Namibia, sadly, have very little opportunity to have quality tennis in their country. With just two major towns, and the vast distances they must travel, it his holding back any meaningful progress despite players showing class and ability. However, if keenness was a yard stick, they would be a top playing country.
We held a hugely successful clinic on the Saturday morning having invited players from 8-10 years to come along from local townships, and we had 34 children and 5 coaches. With qualified coaches to run the clinic plus the team players from the competing teams, they were shown the benefit of warming up and stretching. This was followed by Play and Stay exercises ending with some fun games. Nando’s kindly gave the kids a chicken lunch.
It was a huge pleasure for us to stage this event and with Israel being the only other IC member on the continent, we are delighted to ensure that Africa is represented in the finals.
So, congratulations to the IC SA team in qualifying and to Madagascar for making the final a truly worthy occasion.
Please click on the appropriate stripes to visit the website of an individual country's IC