Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Local’s love of tennis rejuvenates sport at Norwood

Tennis instructor Brian Pound with some of the many kids who
attended a recent tennis camp through the Norwood Tennis Program.

By Adriano Magnifico, The Lance / Canstar Community News

The Norwood Tennis Program is in the midst of a huge resurgence. By the end of August, over 180 kids will have participated in its Norwood Community Centre Tennis Camps.

The popular camps focus on tennis, but include all kinds of sports and games, followed by a daily afternoon swim at the Norwood Flood Bowl pool. Wheelchair tennis players also participate.

Not long ago, the Norwood shale courts were a drab, deteriorating, weedy mess due to years of poor maintenance and lack of interest from the neighbourhood.

The once successful and busy courts needed a new champion.

Then along came Norwood Flats resident Brian Pound, whose commitment and tennis savvy turned the rapidly declining courts into one of Winnipeg’s tennis hubs.

Brian, an avid tennis player from Australia, immigrated to Winnipeg in 1992 and settled in the Flats with his family in 1997. He was disappointed that his neighbourhood courts had been left to ruin. He was determined to do something about it.

In 2007, he approached the Norwood Community Centre Board with a plan to restore the courts and create a viable tennis program for the community. With enthusiastic support from the board of directors, Brian secured over $100,000 in grants from the city, province and the General Council of Winnipeg Community Centres.

The Board requested a maintenance-free space, so asphalt was the way to go. Brian added colourful eye-catching Plexipave coatings that ensured durability and a better ball bounce.

Abandoning those shale courts was tough, even though they required much maintenance — weeding, dragging and watering the shale were daily labours. Folks from the early days talk fondly about that unique clay court tennis experience.

In our era of video games and smartphones, he believes that tennis is a great way to hook youth into being more active. "I want to expose kids to tennis in the hope that they become lifelong players. It’s fun, affordable and great exercise. "

Brian also offers progressive tennis programming for children of all ages. The tennis camps offer smaller courts along with different-sized balls and racquets for developing bodies and skill levels to ensure that players have success and enjoy the game immediately.

Mark Arndt, executive director of Tennis Manitoba, says while the sorry state of some city courts may be "driving people from the sport," Brian’s Norwood model offers a powerful exemplar for building tennis interest and participation in a local community.

He also knows that Brian is the driving force behind Norwood’s success. "Brian is an energetic, enthusiastic visionary for the sport. He is a champion in the tennis community," he said.

Check out http://www.norwoodcc.ca/sports/tennis for drop-in dates and times and more information about this emerging Norwood sport.