Tennis players at Kew Gardens have voted to go half-court on the Ontario juniors.
Starting this summer, Kew Gardens Tennis Club will host one week of the Junior Closed Provincial Championships, rather than two.
Club members voted for the change in a January referendum on whether to keep hosting some, none, or all of the two-week tourney, which draws about 450 boys and girls who compete in four age categories.
Kew has been nearly the only club to host the tournament – now the largest junior championship in Canada – for at least 67 years. Hosting the whole two-week tourney meant Kew members lost nearly 12 days’ worth of daytime courts every June and July.
One member, who did not wish to be named, said it was time to “Give Kew members a break and let other clubs have the honour of hosting at least a portion of the tournament.”
Club president Ev McLean said 174 members voted for the one-week option, while 84 voted to stick with two.
Less than a third of the club’s 846 adult members cast a ballot, about the same response rate as in a 2014 survey on the same issue.
“I am disappointed that more members didn’t participate,” said McLean, adding that evening players may have decided not to vote because they aren’t directly affected.
“But it is what it is, and we’ll just move forward,” she said. “The referendum stands.”
Jim Boyce is a long-time Kew member and executive director of the Ontario Tennis Association, which runs the Junior Closed.
“It’s unfortunate, but at the end of the day it was a democratic vote,” said Boyce when asked about the referendum result.
“We’re quite happy that we’re there at least for one week.”
Boyce said splitting the tournament means the junior players will no longer be grouped in one place for matches and awards ceremonies.
Kew Gardens is uniquely suited to hosting young players because it is a large club with five clay and five hard courts, he said.
“Nobody else in Ontario, or Canada, has anything like that,” he said.
Following a recommendation by the International Tennis Federation, Boyce said Tennis Canada requests that junior tennis players learn on slower clay courts until they are 15 or 16 years old.
Given the lack of large tennis clubs with both hard and clay courts, that means the two age groups that play in the non-Kew week may have to split up.
“Life goes on,” said Boyce. “As long as the kids get to play.
“You know, the numbers are going up, we have so many great players out of Ontario and on the international scene. We’re proud of it, and Kew has been a huge partner in this, huge.”