The State of Tennis in the Sault
Erik Petersen for local2 sault ste. marie
April 3rd, 2012 at 7:59pm
Let me start off by quickly introducing myself. My name is Erik Petersen and I am 25 year old with a highly entrepreneurial spirit. I work at the Queenscentre for the consulting company, CGI. I am also a part of the Sault Ste Marie Lacrosse Association (SSMLA) which has several rep-level teams that represent Sault Ste Marie in the game of Lacrosse.
While Sault Ste Marie has a multitude of public courts, these are adequate only to beginner level players and even then, most of these courts have deteriorated drastically since their creation many years ago. In the case of a player who has a keener interest in the game of tennis, they would normally be referred to RYTAC or the GLC. Unfortunately, a new residence at Algoma U has forced the demolition of the outdoor courts at the GLC, so this is no longer an option. Now that RYTAC is also closed, there will be nowhere for serious tennis players to develop in Sault Ste Marie. To me, this is a serious problem.
As a member of the Lacrosse board my main priority lies with the youth of Sault Ste Marie and their development into respectable and positive members of this community. From the Novice level, to the Intermediate level, the SSMLA is committed to providing a positive atmosphere where players can hone their abilities as well as teach our players the value and importance of respect, self-worth and sportsmanship. It is no great secret that youth who are involved in sporting activities have a much lower chance of engaging in dangerous behaviour such as smoking, drinking, drugs, etc.
On a personal level, this is also heartbreaking for me, as I am an avid tennis player who has been dreaming about playing on the beautiful courts at RYTAC since February. My only alternative is to play on the public courts (Shannon Rd, Weldon Ave) but as I said before, these are neither adequate for the level of tennis I wish to play nor that of the other fine citizens of Sault Ste Marie that I play with. Over the past few weeks I have been playing on these public courts and I have seen numerous youngsters playing, on their own accord, who could have the potential to be excellent players, but this potential will never be met if the Sault does not have the proper facilities in place to make this happen.
Tennis, like soccer, is growing extremely fast and our own tennis star, Milos Raonic, is having a major effect on its growth. It have been almost 20 years since Canada has had a singles tennis player at the calibre of Milos Raonic (who is ranked 26th in the world and is only 21-years old). He, just as Wayne Gretzky did for hockey, will have a profound impact on the growth of tennis throughout the entire nation. It would be a very ill-advised time for Sault Ste Marie to close the facilities needed for todays' youth to pursue the same path as Raonic did. I can only imagine the dismay of a young child who truly loves to watch Raonic but cannot even attempt to develop his tennis skills because his city lacks the necessary facilities. If it is just a fraction of how I feel, it will be truly disappointing.
I hope I have voiced my concerns to the right group of people and to those who also share the vision I have that sport and youth, when combined, have the potential to develop outstanding members of the community. Not only in physical ability but also in their demeanour and character. As an entrepreneur, at the age of 21 I created my own business in the Sault selling hot dogs out of a cart I built with my father. At the age of 24 I joined the Board of Lacrosse in Sault Ste Marie in order to develop that sport within the community. Now, at 25, I want to do the same for tennis but I need help. The RYTAC facility was closed due to the condition of the clubhouse, not the courts. The courts look to be in excellent condition and there is no reason they should be closed.
If there is any way you can help me or direct me to someone who can, I will be much appreciative. I want to do whatever I can to ensure that tennis does not leave the Sault, as every sport has the potential to hold a special place in the hearts of our youth.