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Thursday, June 20, 2024
Fresh faces at official start of this year’s tennis season
Peter Tungaty stretches to return the ball during a volley clinic at The NOTL Tennis Club's season-opening social May 25. RICHARD WRIGHT

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Tennis Club has officially opened after six weeks of preparation and is sporting a new, younger look.

The club held its annual social on Sunday, May 26 at its King Street facilities with approximately 75 new and past members taking part.

“As soon as the weather gets nice, we are out (on the courts),” said president Marilyn Francis. 

The club starts off its season with free tennis clinics in April and by May, when the weather is warmer, it begins its group activities.

Traditionally an older membership base, said Francis, she noted the club is going through a welcomed shift in demographics. 

“We have had a really healthy membership for the past several years,” she said, with the club home to 345 members, 30 of them newcomers this year. 

“The regular demographic is like a lot of activities in town: you know, the early retirees,” she said. 

“This year, there are more younger members than in past years and when I say younger, I mean in their 20s and 30s, which is great,” she added. “It puts some new blood in the club.”

For a while, she said, the average age of a club member was 50 to 70 years old.

On the flip side of that, the youngest club member, Jeremy Pukhkalo, is 11. 

In his first competition of the year at an Ontario Tennis Association tournament held in NOTL May 19, he won the consolation title.

“It’s great having that level of tennis in the young group,” said Francis.

The club’s oldest members are in their late 80s.

“They are very active and play several times a week,” she said.

Regular programs for members include regular weekly ladies, men’s and mixed doubles games, open round robin play Monday and Wednesday mornings, open Sunday singles play, professionally coached adult and junior skills clinics, and doubles and singles tournaments.

A big event that is just around the corner will be the club’s first-ever mock Davis Cup on June 15. 

The Davis Cup is the biggest professional international doubles tournament in the world. Each year, teams from over 150 countries compete.

Registration is open now for the NOTL Davis Cup.

In true sporting and fun fashion, teams will be required to register as a country of their choice and wear the colours of that country.

wright@niagaranow.com

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