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 week of wonderful weather and great tennis the USA Robins team emerged as the Championship winners of the sixth IC Caribbean Doubles Week held this year in The Bahamas.
USIC President and USA Robins team player Robb Bunnen said " This has been a fantastic week of tennis played to a high standard with great camaraderie and sportsmanship. The Bahamas have been wonderful hosts and I know all our team will want to return to The Bahamas again for any future events. We go back to the USA as proud winners with fond memories including many renewed friendships and also with new ones created in the IC tennis world."
There was a full week of competitive tennis for five teams over 5 days comprising some 40 players from USA, Canada, Barbados and The Bahamas.
The format called for each team to play every other team with an inter country match consisting of two mens doubles, two mixed doubles and one ladies doubles played in pairs of combined ages varying from 105 years to 125 years. So a team was a minimum of 6 players ( four men and two ladies) but most comprised of more so different players could perhaps play the mixed doubles , be rested or pairing combinations switched.
Full results are attached. As can be seen many individual matches were taken to third set tie breaks. In the inter country matches seven out of ten finished in close 3 to 2 overall match results - often decide by a third 10 point tie break set individual match .
So the final standings were USA Robins, USA Bluebirds, Barbados, Canada International and the hosts Bahamas in fifth pace.
The event was played on the clay courts of the historic Nassau Lawn Tennis Club which was founded in 1880. That makes it almost the same age as Wimbledon and one of the very oldest clubs in the North America region. In line with that tradition the Final Night Presentation dinner was held at the also historic Royal Nassau Sailing Club. This was where the Duke of Windsor frequented when he was Governor General of The Bahamas during the Second World War. There was a Bahamian seafood menu with a traditional Bahamian "Rake & Scrape" band playing the steel drums and a carpenters saw to the enjoyment of all and amazement of the non Caribbean players. Apparently it was the same saw the musician used when he was a carpenter !
One of the participating players Ward Snyder had written a book "Tennis Life" featuring portraits in their own words of some American tour players he had known through many years. Autographed copies of this were purchased by IC Bahamas and presented to all players at the final night Presentation Dinner. The first player featured in the book was Rob Castorri who was playing on the USA Robins team. In his younger days Rob had beaten Boris Becker the year before Becker won his first Wimbledon..... both were still juniors at the time.
Perhaps because of lingering covid concern, and increasingly expensive transatlantic flights, for the first time no European IC teams came. However it was a strong gathering of North American region teams. There were four IC Presidents taking part as players. This included new USA IC President Robb Bunnen, new Canada President Dale Kozicz, Barbados President Peter Symmonds and Bahamas President Kit Spencer. So not only did many players mix and get to know each other, or in many cases renew friendships but it was a good opportunity for these four IC Presidents to get to know each other better and a help in planning future IC events.
Other interesting IC members playing in the event included several former Davis Cup players, Sue Kimball who achieved the no. 1 ITF Ladies World ranking in the 75+ age group last year and Margaret Lumina who at age 54 got on to the WTA Doubles tour and became the oldest "Rookie" ever to do that.
Co-incidentally the winning USA IC Robins team, on their one day off from matches, had been taken by Bahamas IC Member Mike Keating on a tour of Nassau Harbour on his 36 foot sailing boat - perhaps it was an extra early prize for them!
Having hosted two IC Events in two months including this IC Caribbean Doubles Week and The North American IC Rod Laver Junior Challenge The Bahamas IC thanked Winterbotham Trust and The IC Council for financial support that has helped make this possible. The Bahamas is one of the smallest IC’s with a country population of well under 500,000. However it is pleased to have been able to help get IC Events going after covid and looks forward to a quieter time in the next two months !
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