Monday, 16 July 2012

Manitoba loses a good tennis friend

By Geoff Kirbyson

Manitoba’s tennis community has lost a leader, an organizer, a cheerleader and above all, a friend.

Betty Tough, the longtime executive director of the Manitoba Tennis Association – the predecessor to Tennis Manitoba – died last week in Winnipeg after a brief but dignified battle with cancer. She was 88.

“She was Tennis Manitoba back in the day,” says Peter Otto, head pro at the Kildonan Tennis Club and the Winnipeg Winter Club.

“She wasn’t just a tennis administrator, she was a huge fan. She always supported the local kids both financially and emotionally to do their best to represent the province,” Otto says.

But just because she was in your corner, doesn’t mean she turned a blind eye to the rulebook if you’d tossed a racquet or broke curfew.

“She followed The Yardstick and followed up with any suspensions. Tough was tough,” Otto says.

But Betty will be most remembered for her unwavering support of Manitoba tennis players, particularly juniors, as they prepared for major events such as nationals or Canada Games. A congratulatory note from the executive director after making a provincial team or recording a top-notch result – often read aloud by the recipients in poor impersonations of her

Scottish brogue – were always much appreciated.

Despite having an office, it wasn’t uncommon for juniors to have to visit Betty at her house to sign a form or pick up a team uniform. Her dining room served as a satellite office for the Manitoba Tennis Association as it was full of paperwork, rulebooks and packages from Tennis Canada.

Betty is survived by her husband, Andrew Crawford Tough, and her children Allan (Chris), Brian (Carla), and Sheila (Jim), her grandchildren Colin and Craig, Shannon and Alistair, and Matthew and Ashton, and her great-grandchildren Taylor, Brandon and Connor.