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Chairman's Report following AGM

Chairman's Report following AGM

Members, guests, ladies and gentlemen so comes the end of my first year as your chairman and I must say that the journey has been quite remarkable in many ways. It is always daunting to take on a new challenge whatever the circumstances, but challenges are there to be met full on and grasped and  to make the most of the opportunities. To misphrase Kiplings poem If, I hope that I did meet the ups and downs just the same.

Looking back on the year I would summarize it by saying that we certainly made forward progress but there was a disappointing aspect which we have to address moving forward.

The year started with a group of 20 people visiting Italy at a time of the ATP 1000 series tournament in Rome and we not only played against the host country but were able to spend time watching the 1000 series tournament whilst being royally entertained by the Italian IC. Some went on to visit other parts of Italy and some went to Monte Carlo to play tennis there and no doubt spend their hard earned Rands in the Casino.

On the positive side the highlight was that we represented Africa at the Compass World wide junior challenge in Tokyo. Our four players, Robbie Arendse, Joubert Klopper,

Ntokozo Zungu and Linge Steenkamp had the experience of a life time. We knew before they left that the competition would be extremely tough. We knew that the Italian boys were very strong but we never expected to come up against 16 and 17 year old boys who were already well over six feet tall.

A tour of this nature allows our young players to experience a different culture and experience a different life style. So it was off court that I felt the kids benefited the most. They attended a formal dinner in the company of a Japanese Princess and had to have a “crash course” in protocol; wore Kimonos; attended a tea drinking ceremony; learnt the art of calligraphy and assisted at a clinic for handicapped children. It is these life skills that will stay etched in their memories just as much, if not more so, than the camaraderie and friendships they made on the court.

It was extremely pleasing to hear that Ntokozo gave a wonderful speech on behalf of the team at the formal dinner and for that I sincerely thank her for putting her hand up.  I also congratulate Linge Steenkamp, who at the end of the tournament was awarded the Sportsmanship award for the girls. My sincere thanks go to Terrey Schweitzer who was the Manageress/coach to the team. Her experience gained over the years from such tours and general managing of teams, ensured that our team was well prepared to not only play their matches but also to gain maximum benefit from such a tour.

Talk of manageress/coach position on behalf of the club wish to congratulate Rene Plant on being named in that position for the South African Fed Cup team. Due to her achievements garnered during her time on the tour in the 80s and 90s I am sure that her experience and knowledge of the game will help our younger up and coming players to achieve far more in the future than they would without her guidance.

I am pleased to report that Gauteng, Western Province and Eastern Province all held social days during the year. I acknowledge that it is not easy to get our members together on a regular basis to foster friendship but mornings such as those mentioned go a long way to ensuring that the ethos of the club is fully maintained. It is something that I and the committee will be actively pursuing this coming year.

We were able to produce a fairly regular newsletter throughout the year and I think you will agree that the one sent to you in December was indeed a “bumper” edition. By producing this regularly it ensures that our members are kept abreast of what is happening and being planned and is a vital tool in our communication. I wish to thank

Duard Botha for his time and expertise in producing such an interesting and well produced newsletter.  Our two development programs are still on going. The one at Kenton-on-Sea is growing and the kids played in their first tournament when they travelled to Craddock. Some are also participating in the league in Port Elizabeth. I wish to acknowledge the tremendous work Leonie is doing there in ensuring that the project grows year by year and I thank her for her commitment.

The project in Vosloorus has again produced players that have represented Gauteng East at both SA High schools and provincial weeks and this is pleasing but we have noticed that we are not attracting many new youngsters to the program. This is something that concerns us and this year there will have to be a marked increase in numbers attending on a regular basis to grow the project. In conjunction with Gauteng East we are now seeking to try to involve the teachers of the four local schools. By doing so we will raise the awareness of the game within the schools and make our battle against the traditional sports of soccer, rugby and cricket easier.

Talking of numbers, at the Annual General meeting of the IC in London in July last year there was considerable discussion on the make up of membership. An age analysis throughout the world showed that we are top heavy with members in the over 65/70 and upwards categories. I did an age analysis of our own membership when I got back and found that we mirrored the world wide figures. We have been looking at ways to increase our 30-40 age group so as to ensure that the club has sustainability and is assured of growth in the future. This is something we will be seriously looking at during this and future years.

I have had a number of successful and fruitful meetings with both Gavin Crooks as President of Tennis South Africa and the CEO Richard Glover. I believe that in our own ways we are both looking to promote and foster tennis throughout the country.  There is scope for the two bodies to work closer together and the meetings I havehad with them have started this process of closer cooperation. I am confident that we can do our part in promoting the game here in South Africa within the scope and aims of the International Club and assist TSA to achieve their far greater and wider goals.

I appreciate that this is a report on last year. But it would be remiss of me not to look to the future and talk briefly on 2020. That is the year that we celebrate our 70th birthday.  We are looking at a number of functions to mark the occasion and none more so than the holding of an international event in Sun City in May to mark and honour the Legends of the game in this country. We are hoping that 8 or 10 overseas countries will come and play and we will acknowledge those who over the years have ensured that South Africa was one of the major tennis playing countries in the world thanks to the quality of players that brought us honour on the world stage. We hope to hold at least another two major events that year to celebrate our 70th birthday. Watch this space and more importantly, the newsletters which will have more details as we go along.

I wish to acknowledge the tremendous work that our Honorary President Lorna Krog is doing in Cape Town for the club. It was due to her untiring efforts that the social day there was such a success and I am sure she will be well to the fore in organizing similar functions this year and in 2020.

To my committee, my sincere thanks for your commitment, dedication and most importantly your support of me during the past year. They bring a vast amount ofexperience within the game to the table and have worked tirelessly. I am delighted that they have all offered themselves for re-election for the forthcoming year. It will be a year we ensure that our projects continue to grow and we lay the foundations for amazing 2020 and what that year holds for our club.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you.

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