Under-9 tennis tourney features promising players

tennis-net-closeup-f4There will be no shortage of Golden Horseshoe representation at the first Ontario Tennis Association’s Champions Under-9 Tournament at the Rexall Centre in Toronto, Nov, 8-10.

From the South West Region in the boys division are Stefan Simeunovic, Niagara, Kirill Chepushtanov, Burlington, and Nemanja Stafanovic, Oakville, while Victoria Mboko, Burlington, Aleksandra Paramentic, Niagara Falls, and Olivia Halvorsen, Milton, will compete in the girls section.

And from the world of strange coincidences another Stefan Simeunovic, from Oakville, will challenge in the West Central region along with Oakville’s Joshua Kim.

Champions is a province-wide event that began in August with 10 regional qualifying tournaments. This weekend 72 of the top Under 9 competitors in the province – 40 boys and 32 girls – will vie for $20,000 of private coaching from their pros.

The two winners, one boy and one girl, will each receive $6,000 in private coaching over a two year period, with the two finalists receiving $4,000 in private coaching each. The event will be a round robin format to begin with, leading to a knock-out tournament to decide the winners. The event will be on a full size court with modified tennis balls and a modified scoring system.

“The Champions” is the brain child of Murray Rubin, a life-long tennis enthusiast and member of the York Racquets Club in Toronto. Rubin has donated over $40,000 to event to be used to pay for the one-on-one coaching of the young winners and finalists – $20,000 per year, over a two year period, with an option to continue it for three more years if the project is successful.

Rubin approached the OTA with the idea and, together with the staff, created the event. He is a long-time supporter of tennis in Canada and Ontario whose “goal is to help produce a Canadian world champion”. The OTA shares in his belief that, “in order to produce a great player, you must offer extensive coaching and start players at a young age”. The OTA will administer the tournament and the coaching dollars offered.

Rubin believes that, although some parents might not have the resources to afford all the coaching their child needs, “these kids will come to this tournament with dreams”. Rubin hopes his contribution will help to develop the next Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard.

He wants to continue to help build on the momentum Canada has enjoyed on the tennis court in recent years, a vision shared by the OTA.

The tournament begins at 9 a.m. on Friday and continues Saturday and Sunday. All matches will be played on indoor courts at the Rexall Centre in Toronto, home of the Rogers Cup.