Friday, December 12, 2014



They say good things come in threes and that certainly applies to the recognition that Milos Raonic has received in the form of three awards:-

The Canadian Club of Toronto presents its Canadian of the Year Award to distinguished Canadians whose efforts and example have improved the lives of others and benefited us as a nation. On Wednesday, November 26th, the Canadian Club  recognized  Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Canada's top ranking professional tennis player, as the 2014 Canadian of the Year award recipient.

Then on Friday Dec 5th Tennis Canada announced the male recipients of the 2014 Tennis Canada Excellence Awards.  It was no surprise when they named Milos Raonic as the Birks Male Player of the Year for the fourth time. Maybe more of a surprise was that they also named him as the 2014 Most Improved Player of the Year in recognition of his continued growth even at his exceptionally high level. By reaching his first Grand Slam semifinal, qualifying for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals, and consolidating his ranking inside the Top 10, Milos has shown that he has elevated his game and that the best of his career may well be yet to come. 

Next it was Milos who turned his success into awards for the next generation of tennis players. On Tuesday Dec 9th Tennis Canada announced the creation of a new Player Coaching Grant for under 12 players, which was made possible due to support from Milos. The grants will be used to offset players' coaching and travel costs.

Milos commented, "Costs associated with a promising player reaching their potential can be difficult for some families. My parents gave me every opportunity to succeed and I’m continuing to set and reach my goals, but that’s not the case for everyone. I want Canada to continue producing high-calibre talent and hopefully this grant helps remove some barriers that may be facing the young players and their families that need that training, development and competition.” 

Three Ontario players will be the retroactive recipients of the award for 2013.  They are Liam Draxl, Viktoriya Tabunshchyk and Alexandra Akhipov.

Ariana Arsenault and Sebastian Serbanescu of Ontario and Justus Alexandre Agbo and Melodie Collard of Quebec are the 2014 recipients of the grant.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


It is with much sadness that we heard of Vic Braden’s death from a heart attack on Oct 6th. His wife said “His great big heart just finally gave out.” He was 85.

Vic made his name as a tennis promoter and teacher. He sponsored research into various aspects of tennis with a particular interest in psychology (he earned a master's degree in psychology at UCLA and California State). He believed that learning tennis should be fun, his mantra was “While people are being introduced to a new sport, they should be laughing their guts out while learning. Those that learn this way are usually in the sport for a lifetime.”
In 1986, Jack Kramer said, "One Vic Braden is worth a lot of champions in helping the sport. The McEnroes, Borgs, Connors, they've been great. But I don't think any one of them has created the interest in the sport Vic has."

Vic Braden contributed 23 articles to Ontario Tennis magazine between 2001 and 2008. I found an article on Cheaters by Vic in a Florida USTA magazine and thought it might be valuable for players in Ontario to read it. I checked out Vic Braden and his web site and emailed the general address asking for permission to reprint. I received a personal email from Vic the next day granting me permission to use the article as he felt promoting tennis was so important. Later that day he emailed me again as his marketing people thought he was being too generous. We agreed to include a ¼ page ad with his articles and developed an agreement that lasted 8 years. Sometimes we would use articles that he had on file and at others he would write specifically for us. Not one penny passed between our organizations. On the single occasion that Vic thought he would miss a deadline by one day, he phoned me personally to apologize. The article arrived the next day.

The article on cheaters that started it all can be found below. It may seem a little dated, but still has relevance for the player who thinks they may be facing this issue.

Vic was a great man who worked with so many stars of the game but had the passion for the game that he was willing to help a nobody from nowhere who asked for his help in promoting the game of tennis. He was a terrific role model with an insatiable curiosity for what made tennis players tick. He will be missed.

How to Handle Cheaters on the Tennis Court by Vic Braden

While doing a survey of junior tennis players, the number one concern was how to handle cheaters. It also remains a serious issue with adults at several clubs across the country. Here are my thoughts on this complex issue.

One, before accusing someone of being a cheater, you’ll want to be sure that you are correct in making that charge. One year, we tested over 100 subjects making line calls for the USTA and we were amazed at the vast number of errors made by spectators. Linespersons and tournament players calling the service line. To guarantee our accuracy we filmed a large number of serves at 1000 frames per second. At that speed we were able to see the exact contact point of the ball against the court for approximately three frames. We would ask several individuals to go out onto the court and place a stick at where they thought the ball landed. We were surprised, not only by the number of errors, but the size of the errors being made by nearly everyone. To be fair, the linesperson sitting in a chair and looking down the line was the most accurate, even though there were some errors. But the servers, or hitters, on the opposite side of the landing point were often miserable with their calls. The spectators were basically miserable at calling lines.

Two, there are players who simply have lousy eyesight and shouldn’t be calling shots at all. This group doesn’t intend to cheat and they often call shots that penalize themselves.

Three, we also know that players landing on a hard surface tend to lose visual acuity because their eye moves irregularly and vision is often distorted. You can easily test that theory by running a lap around the tennis court and have someone hand you a newspaper article to read on the second lap. You’ll get the picture fast. But alas, there are players who actually choose to cheat on a few, or many, key calls to gain an advantage in a match. These neurotic individuals are normally known to all the players and are the subject of this article. There are several actions you can take.

1. IF YOU”RE PLAYING in a sanctioned USTA event, you have the right to ask for an umpire. You can’r always get one, but you send a notice out to your opponent that you smell a rat. The key here is to alert the tournament committee before the match so that they have personnel ready to jump into the loop at the first obvious infraction.
2. YOU CAN CHOOSE to confront the perpetrator, but that seldom works as the cheater has been through that scenario a hundred times.
3. IF YOU KNOW THE HISTORY of the violator, you can actually have a friend videotape the calls on the cheater’s side of the court. Then you can present evidence to the tournament committee. Even though there are difficulties as the camera normally operates on 30 frames per second, the cheater makes such bad line calls that the video is often quite conclusive.
4. YOUNG PLAYERS often say to themselves, “Okay, if that’s what the person is going to so to me, I’ll do the same thing to him/her.” That is not in your best interest as cheating is cheating, no matter what the reason. As a matter of fact, honest people who give into this system of “an eye for an eye” often feel miserable the first time they cheat. They usually play worse and lose faster.
5. ALL PERSONS BEING CHEATED should feel good about one thing. The player doing the cheating is so insecure that he must use cheating as a crutch. But when the big tournaments come around, there will be umpires and linespersons and the cheater will no longer have the crutch on which to rely. That often causes the cheater to choke.
6. THERE ARE POTENTIAL LEGAL issues regarding the “defamation of character”. However, the most effective system I’ve seen is when several adults, or juniors, seek a meeting with the cheater and express their feelings at the same time. The cheater likes one on one situations, but hates group sanctioning. There is a time when an intervention program must be implemented.
7. REMEMBER YOU CAN CHOOSE to completely avoid playing the cheater. If everyone defaulted against the cheater, don’t think for a moment that the tournament committee, and club owners and members, wouldn’t get the message.
8. JACK KRAMER USED TO TELL ME that he expected about six bad line calls a match. Thus, he could count on playing his best as he never got angered until the seventh lousy call. This helped him beat cheaters sooner.

Andrew Young, once the US Ambassador to the United Nations, told me about a wonderful lesson he learned from playing against international politicians. He said, “Those who cheated on the tennis court could almost always be counted on to cheat in the United Nations”, player, beware.



The annual Raonic Race for Kids fundraiser was held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on November 25. Hosted by Milos Raonic and Tennis Canada the event raised $130,000 for The Milos Raonic Foundation and Tennis Canada’s "Let's Make Tennis Matter for Kids" campaign.

The Milos Raonic Foundation focuses on children with physical disabilities and, especially, children in need of prosthetic devices that will enable them to reach their full potential. Milos' charity works in conjunction with the Holland Bloorview kids rehab hospital in Toronto. The Let’s Make Tennis Matter for Kids campaign supports programs which gets children onto the courts and playing Kids Tennis.  In Ontario community programs have been launched in Mississauga, North York, Scarborough and Ottawa (Capital Kids).

Sixteen teams vied for the Raonic Cup by participating in a series of fun, interactive, circuit-style challenges alongside their celebrity honorary captains. The captains were Milos, Frank Dancevic, Patrick Chan, George Stroumboulopoulos, Dwayne De Rosario, Carson Arthur, Adriano Belli, Michael Boguski, Rob Faulds, Karl Hale, Curt Harnett, Marnie McBean, Danielle Michaud, Kelly Murumets, Martin Reader,Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. The Master of Ceremonies for the event was TSN’s Cabbie Richards. Sponsors included McRae Imaging, Pizzaville, Toronto Star, National Bank and New Balance.

The OTA entered a team called the OTA Future Stars, captained appropriately by ATP and Canadian Davis Cup tennis star, Frank Dancevic of Niagara Falls, who developed his tennis in the OTA competitive system  

A lot of photos the fun, OTA team action and videos of Milos and others, have been posted on the OntarioTennisAssociation  Facebook page, Check them out and like them! 

Everyone had a great evening and enjoyed the competitive and active events. Don't forget to check out OTA President, Scott Fraser's, blog at where he reviews his highlights of the year in a seasonally entitled 12 days of OTA.

Pictured here left to right; The OTA Future Stars - Dave Gervan, Scott Fraser, Diane Kriksciunas, (Patrick Chan), Kim Fraser, Milos Raonic, Dianne Weatherby, Michel Lecavalier, Jim Boyce and Rob Nicholls.


 Click here to view video

On Nov 13th the Cricket Club kicked off a series of planned fundraising events in support of the Doug Philpott Inner-City Children’s Fund.  The Philpott Fund programming has been expanding and in 2014 they provided free tennis camps to 8,000 kids at 17 sites, were able to train 11 teens as community leaders to help run the camps and distributed 500 racquets to kids and their families collected from local tennis enthusiasts.

The first event was a book launch.  Gerry Ronan Sr has published his first book at age 81.  It is - a collection of his lifelong poetry writing entitled The Outstretched Hand  by  Gerard C. Ronan. He is donating the book proceeds to the Philpott Inner City Children's Tennis Fund and with a packed house at the event, and the lively readings of some of the poems at the launch, undoubtedly sales were brisk. Gerry is a long time tennis player and member of the Cricket Club.

The next event was a “tennis-a-thon” for kids and this was an innovative way to get young players (up to the age of 17) introduced to fundraising and enjoying tennis.  75 kids played for 10 hours between 2pm and midnight and the event took place at the end of November.  A video of the event put together by Jamie Pope can be seen at Philpott Kids Tennis-a-thon or by clicking above.

Thanks go to Caroline Killeen, Sophie Ljukovic Ronan and Pauline Noteboom Veerman for developing a great idea and designing such a successful event and to Laura Borza, Claudia VoicuGreg Novak, Chris Gostek, Ali Khan, Patti Henderson and Jamie Pope for their help in making it such an enjoyable reality.

The next and most significant fundraising event will be the Ladies Team Tournament which will be hosted January 28th and 29th  2015 at the Cricket Club. 

For more information of the Philpott Fund please go to



Early in 2014 a group of tennis enthusiasts decided they would dip their toes into the US tennis scene by entering a team in the Over 40 USTA 9.0 mixed doubles league playing out of the Niagara Falls Country Club in Lewiston, NY.  The league matches were played on weekends which meant that the extended travelling was not so much of an issue for the players, most of whom work full time.  League play may have interfered with their chance to enter tournaments here in Ontario, but for the doubles tennis fanatic, the opportunity to play and fraternize with new opposition is important, and most sanctioned tournaments give priority to singles play, even if they do include doubles.

“We would get up at 8 a.m. and be there by 11 a.m., play two matches and then go for drinks and a bite to eat,” explained the team captain, Sandra Barrett. “It was just fun. That is what brought us into it. The USTA is a world-class organization as far as how they approach the tournaments and how well-organized they are. From the [local] leagues all the way to Nationals, our opponents have been so welcoming and they’re so friendly.”

Co-captain, Kelly Stobbe, concurred, ““It is different competition. It has been very encouraging. [Opponents] are happy to have new blood and someone else to play against. More teams helping to build more tennis and keep it going.”

More than 250 players on more than 30 teams qualified for the Nationals played at the Surprise Arizona Racquet Centre over 3 days.  The Surprise Racquet Centre is run by the City of Surprise, near Phoenix, AZ and boasts 25 courts, 17 of which have lights and so is large enough to accommodate all kinds of tournaments and a range of activities at one site.

The Canadian team stood out at the event. They sported red uniforms, Canadian flags and logos and even had a small cadre of supporters waving towels and flags in support and immersed themselves in the competitive atmosphere.  Tennis Canada helped them out with towels and T-shirts. Although the team missed out on playing in the event semi-finals, they in no way felt outclassed and the challenge of the competition and the efficient organization made the experience extremely worthwhile and memorable for the first all Canadian team ever to reach a USTA league final.

The experience was so positive that in 2015, there will be 8 Canadian teams entered in the USTA Over 18 and Over 40 Mixed Doubles Leagues.  Teams will be from the 6.0 to 10.0 level.  “It is very exciting to see the growing interest and to form teams with players from all over the province!” said Sandra Barrett.  For more information on participating in USTA leagues you may contact her at

Pictured here from left to right are Rob Husain, Donna Wittmann, Scott Barrett, Joanne Dyment, Ray Thompson, Sandra Barrett (Captain), Kelly Stobbe (Co-Captain), Adam Salahudeen.  Photo by Shabana Husain.