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Sep. 20, 2021 | Monday
Editorials and Opinions
Ross' Ramblings: A moment of pure sportsmanship at NOTL tennis tourney
Scott Lewis and John Pilling, left, shake hands with Jayden and Felix Jeong. (Evan Saunders)

Ross Robinson

Special to The Lake Report

Two aging and wily high-level tennis players and two teenaged and upcoming athletes competed fiercely in the opening round of the NOTL Tennis Club Gentlemen’s Doubles Tourney last week.

Some 48 players of various skill levels played, won and lost. All were winners – because we were there.

After each match ends players traditionally congratulate each other at the net. 

Out of nowhere, lefty Scott Lewis and his tennis partner, John Pilling, said to first-year club members Jayden and Felix Jeong, “Great match. You both made some amazing shots. Good luck in the next round.” And other platitudes.

Then, Scott added the magic words. “Do you wanna play some more? We have time and that was really fun.”

The two brothers, Jayden, 17, and Felix, 15, surely thought they had died and gone to Centre Court at Wimbledon.

They replied, approximately, “That would be awesome. Let’s do it.”

This was one of those magic moments which sometimes find there ways into our lives.

Permit me to quote “Creed of the Amateur,” by Richard Tufts, a champion amateur golfer from Pinehurst, N.C.

“An amateur is one who competes in a sport for the joy of playing, for the companionship it affords, for health-giving exercise, and relaxation from more serious matters. As a part of this light-hearted approach to the game, he accepts cheerfully all adverse breaks, is considerate of his opponent, plays the game fairly and squarely in accordance with its rules, maintains self-control, and strives to do his best, not in order to win, but rather as a test of his own skill and ability.”

Yes, folks, this was a magnificent example of pure sportsmanship, right here in our wee village.

The weather had been perfect, naturally, the competition was relatively fierce, and the bleachers and lawn chairs were surprisingly occupied. Good-natured cheering and heckling filled the evening air.

Lewis and Pilling have been playing tennis around the Niagara region for many years, and have won more than their fair share of tournaments. They play hard and play for the sake of the game.

Jayden and Felix are COVID-ly distanced students at Eden High School in St. Catharines. They were born in South Korea and arrived in Niagara in 2016, after a few years living in Egypt. The irrepressible Rosemary Goodwin met them at White Oaks and encouraged them to join the NOTL club.

The lads bring much youthful enthusiasm to our aging demographic, and they are determined to rise to a top level of tennis. They are classy young men, eager to play as much tennis as possible. Huzzah for young people.

After the first round matches were finished about 8:30 p.m., most players retired to the pavilion to enjoy a cup of tea and tell lies. Biscuits were shared. Soft drinks, Cheetos and peanuts were shared.

That's when I realized the court lights were still on.

The four players were exchanging forehands, backhands, volleys and lobs. Laughter, darns and congrats were heard for well over an hour.

I had surely witnessed a unique moment of sport.

What a country! Canada is certainly not perfect, but we are pretty darned good for such a young nation.

We get along and we help each other to be more inclusive. Right here, in NOTL.

Let’s spread the love. We are so fortunate to live in Canada … in 2021.