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.
It is with a great deal of sadness that we must advise the passing of our former IC of South Africa President, Doug Hillen.
Doug always held the International Club in high regard and like anything to do with tennis, he devoted his full energies into his time as president, a position he held for 10 years. His commitment to the game was spawned by the fact that his father set the example of commitment to the game by being the power behind the rise of Commercial Tennis club to become one of, if not the, top club in Johannesburg in his day. So much so that Commercial club added the name “Hillen” to the name of the club. So, his upbringing ensured that the love of the game was passed from father to son.
Tennis was not in his DNA, tennis was his DNA.
He just could not play enough tennis and his famous blue court at his home must have been worn through with the amount of play that the court soaked up.
Doug was on the IC Executive as the African representative a position he was proud to be asked to fulfil. He again devoted time and energy into this position in true Hillen style and fervour.
On court Doug represented South Africa several times at the World Veterans championships and for the IC SA and he vigorously pursued IC matches against other countries on his travels. He was passionate about representing the IC abroad and such was his standing in some of these countries, that he was made an honorary member of several other IC countries.
At home he regularly represented his province, Gauteng Central, in inter provincial matches and became almost a permanent fixture in any Gauteng Central team. It is thought that he represented his province close to 50 times throughout his career.
A memorial service was held for Doug at his son’s house on 25th April and well attended by family friends, close acquaintances and a well turned out number of IC members. As chairman I was honoured to be asked by his son, Greg, to speak about his work with and for the IC as well as on a personal level as he was often my doubles partner at tournaments.
Sadly, Doug suffered from dementia in his later years, and this was a trying time for his family.
Doug will leave a huge hole in tennis, not only in South Africa but the world as he was a shining example of how to be true ambassador of the sport and his country.
Doug leaves behind his wife, June, a son Greg, daughter Dianne and six grandchildren.
On behalf of the IC SA I extended our condolences to his family at the memorial.
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