The St. Davids Tennis Club has a mission to make the sport more accessible to people in and around the area – all while having fun.
“We’ve had people coming from all throughout the St. Davids area, but also we’ve been having people coming from north Niagara Falls,” the club’s president, John Yoxall, told The Lake Report.
This is the first season for the club at the St. Davids Lion’s Park on York Road and Yoxall said it’s been a huge success.
“We’ve got clinics that are running I think four or five times a week now — both for youth and adult beginners,” he said.
More than 60 kids, some as young as five, participated in the club’s lessons and clinics. Sixteen adults also took lessons.
Some of the classes are paid, but many have been free as a way to make available to others, said Yoxall.
To celebrate the club’s first-year success, it held a Summer Showoff this past Sunday.
Twenty-four tennis students split into teams of four to face each other for a chance to get their hands on the Dancevic Ball.
This huge tennis ball is named after Team Canada’s captain, Frank Dancevic, a Niagara Falls native.
Dancevic led Team Canada to a Davis Cup victory in 2022.
“When Frank Dancevic was here for the Davis Cup, I went down and met with him and brought one of those giant tennis balls,” said Yoxall.
Dancevic signed the ball for Yoxall and it has now become a trophy at the club.
Yoxall said Sunday’s matches were close, but the yellow team defeated the red team in the end.
The club is run by volunteers, which includes a mix of parents and high school students completing volunteer hours.
Throughout the summer, seven young people were certified through the Tennis Canada Community Tennis Facilitator program to become youth instructors, explained Yoxall.
He said Rosemary Goodwin, a NOTL tennis player who was instrumental in bringing the Davis Cup to town in August, helped with this process.
“I think it’s critical for the health of the sport to get youth involved in this,” said Yoxall.
He added it could help them with future employment opportunities as paid instructors.
“It’s all about leadership and building their confidence,” he said.
These new youth instructors guided the four teams during the weekend’s games along with Karen Wright, the club’s head coach, and the volunteers.
The day was full of fun activities including balloon tennis — which involves hitting an inflatable balloon instead of a tennis ball.
It’s frustrating, said Yoxall, but evens the playing field for five-year-olds and adults.
The club will continue to run activities outdoors throughout September and October.
“As long as we’ve got the weather, we’re going to continue holding the programs,” he said.
He’s looking forward to building on this summer’s success and making it “bigger and better” next year.
Anyone interested in joining the club or learning about its September and October lessons can email firstname.lastname@example.org.